AdNews, in partnership with the MFA (Media Federation of Australia), presents a series of articles from members of the MFA's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Council. The body promotes the MFA’s ambition to build a diverse, equitable and inclusive industry:
Luisa Dalli, senior strategist, Havas Media Australia
“Diversity creates innovation and better work. The best work across our industry stems from the nuanced understanding of culture, subsequently influencing consumers’ behaviour.”
What motivates you to advocate in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion?
I’ve always gravitated towards people who have had similar experiences to mine. When I say ‘similar’, I should say different experiences to what would be considered the norm. I’m a woman of mixed ethnicity and was raised by one of the loudest Filipinas in Sydney. When she immigrated to Sydney in the ’80s, her voice wasn’t heard. When she was raising her daughters in the ’90s, her voice wasn’t heard. This fuels my passion to create an environment where different experiences are celebrated, and diverse voices are heard.
How would greater diversity and inclusion impact our industry?
Diversity creates innovation and better work. The best work across our industry stems from the nuanced understanding of culture, subsequently influencing consumers’ behaviour, knowing what shapes their views, values, humour, hopes, loyalties, worries, passions and fears. As communications specialists, we must maintain our commitment to DE&I to best represent the diverse nation that is Australia.
One of the MFA’s aims is for the DE&I Advisory Council to highlight simple actions individuals and companies can take to encourage and promote diversity, equity and inclusion. Can you share a positive example of an initiative in our industrythat helped you feel seen and included?
Anxiety comes in many different forms and is triggered by many different things. For me, it was preparing for work each morning. Even when I had a calm day, the wave of nausea that would come over me was inescapable. This would lead to me being late for work, which would then feed my anxiety – a morning routine I wouldn’t wish upon anybody. Then Havas introduced core hours, our flexible working schedule that shortened our desk time to 10am – 4pm. This initiative could be easily interpreted as something designed to benefit parents – but it’s much more than that.
- It benefits colleagues who help with aged family members.
- It benefits colleagues who commute long distances for work.
- It benefits colleagues who are working at 10pm the night before.
- It benefits colleagues who choose not to share their personal situation.
- It enriched our lives outside of work.
By deliberately making core hours accessible to all employees, it directly supported myself and many other Havasians. It created a sense of belonging.
What should our priorities be as an industry in the area of DE&I?
This is not an easy task. Due to its complexity, our priorities should lie in our approach. This requires industry-wide empathy, preparation, and most importantly accountability. We need to ask ourselves the honest question of where our industry currently stands on DE&I. Garnering this insight and understanding will inform our actions over the next 12 months and beyond.