A Crash isn’t just the collective noun for a group of rhinoceros. It’s also the name of our new Equality, Diversity & Inclusivity (EDI) team, committed to making our business, and the wider world, a better, fairer, more enlightened place. Although EDI is an organic part of our culture and how we constantly challenge and evolve, there’s room – and an obligation – to go further and disrupt stereotypes; to shatter the norm. Each piece of the CRASH logo represents the different types of people that are required to make CRASH a success. We caught up with the diverse, real-life EDI experts who make up this inspiring team.
Give us a quick introduction to CRASH – what is it? And when did it all start?
Gaya Maheswaran: Following last year’s Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests around the world, Team CRASH was formed to embed Equality, Diversity and Inclusion as part of Maverick Group culture and to enable us to constantly challenge and evolve as we grow.
David Cavilla: We are aware that our industry needs to change. And what better way to do that than to be the change we want to see? We formed an action group, reviewing a wide range of subjects, aiming to help drive change and make an impact. This group is now supporting training, awareness and education across the business and beyond, with the aim of making, not only The Maverick Group but our industry more open, knowledgeable and a better place for all.
Our hope is that CRASH’s work will illustrate that while we are all individuals with different characteristics, we are all equally valuable and important.Clair O'Brien
In a nutshell, what does Equality, Diversity and Inclusion mean to you?
Rob Burns: It’s about generating conversations with the aim of understanding and acknowledging that we are all different – a fact that should be celebrated! Some conversations may well be uncomfortable, as we tackle people’s varying perceptions. For me, EDI’s main goal should be to a create a future where it is longer needed – that way we’ll know that we’ve done a good job!
Ten Chukwuma-Brown: EDI is more than a corporate objective. The values can be taken on board and pushed in our everyday lives. We have a responsibility to become better versions of ourselves and EDI outlines a way for us to find mutual ground between us as human beings. By enabling empathy and compassion we are able to see past the restrictions of prejudice and create an environment where all are welcome.
Why do you think CRASH is important to the growth of The Maverick Group?
Jeff So: At The Maverick Group, we want to shatter the norm and disrupt stereotypes: that’s the essence of CRASH. By recognising and learning from our differences, we begin to appreciate what others have been through and realise not everyone has the same background. Eventually, this will not only broaden our views in life but also help us achieve the goal of being different without division. By remaining true to this, Maverick will be able to ensure that the talents and past experiences of different individuals create a productive, strong and united team. This will enhance the company, and in turn, provide positivity for future growth and economic outcomes.
Rosie Osei-Wireko: Having a vibrant EDI initiative sets the tone for inclusivity in the agency. People feel listened to and valued simply by knowing that a group exists for that purpose.
By recognising and learning from our differences, we begin to appreciate what others have been through and realise not everyone has the same background.Jeff So
Tell us a little about the values and behaviours that you hope CRASH will instil at The Maverick Group?
Michael Coetzee: Through the EDI values of Change, Respect, Accountability, Support and Honesty, we hope to drive positive change throughout the business by establishing five easy ‘steps’ to live by.
- Change – making positive changes throughout the group
- Respect – for one another, for the agency and ourselves
- Accountability – for ourselves, for each other, and for the business
- Support – each other, in whatever way we can
- Honesty – in what is right and how we address it
Clair O’Brien: Our hope is that CRASH’s work will illustrate that while we are all individuals with different characteristics, we are all equally valuable and important. Sharing different backgrounds and experiences will broaden our knowledge, which we can offer to each other and our clients. Curiosity is key. Continued learning will hopefully support our group values of ‘In it together’, ‘That’ll do will never do’ and ‘Ask why’.
How will these values and behaviours create tangible change?
Michael: Our EDI values enable tangible change throughout the agency by providing memorable and ownable behaviours for The Maverick Group. The values themselves form an acronym of the group’s name so that they are memorable and can be applied on a day-to-day basis as we deal with projects, clients and colleagues.
What are the main topics that CRASH is addressing this year?
Denielle Govender: We have five key focus areas: values, policies, recruitment, training, and events. Because we’re an advertising agency, we’ve also created a strong brand around Team CRASH, to ensure our communications – both internally and externally – are impactful and instantly recognisable.
Why are these considered the key topics for CRASH?
Denielle: When CRASH was formed, we started by asking everyone in the agency what they thought our areas of focus should be. Together, we created a company survey, and from the responses we were able to identify what we needed to do. We want our approach to be well-rounded and look at all sides and levels of the business.
What has the CRASH team achieved so far on these key topics?
Millie Irvine: As the CRASH team is still quite new, we’ve been busy establishing our values and branding and rolling them out across internal comms. We’re currently working with our training partners to hammer out a scope of works and get a training programme rolled out across the agency.
Denielle: Regarding events, it’s been a bit tricky with everyone working from home over the last year. However, we’ve done our best to educate, engage with, and celebrate key dates relating to different communities. For example, during Black History Month, we shared books, films and educational resources. To celebrate the community, we also created a playlist featuring black artists that Mavericks could listen to whilst they work, and shared recipes from different black cultures.
What are the future roll-out plans for CRASH at The Maverick Group?
Millie: Once we have completed company-wide training, we’ll look into organising more in-depth and tailored training for specific teams within the company. We are also looking into sending out a quarterly newsletter sharing information, learnings and acknowledgements of various events throughout the year. In terms of long-term goals, we are finding ways in which we can improve our recruitment process to be more inclusive and diverse.
CRASH's impact should be to promote and embrace the uniqueness of the individual, and the idea that everyone should be respected for their own values, sexuality, abilities, gender, race and religious belief.Rob Burns
If there was one key difference that the CRASH team could make to all of The Maverick Group employees, clients and partners, what would it be?
Rob: CRASH’s impact should be to promote and embrace the uniqueness of the individual, and the idea that everyone should be respected for their own values, sexuality, abilities, gender, race and religious belief. Diversity is a good thing: what we learn from those who are different to us can be some of the most valuable lessons in life.
Ten: CRASH isn’t afraid to speak about topics that matter. It is very easy to opt for comfort when discussing sensitive subjects, but this is the very reason why change never happens. CRASH will challenge matters head-on and unapologetically. Having the courage to set the standard for how things should be done is what makes CRASH different – and 100% maverick.
So, that’s the lowdown on CRASH – what it’s up to and where it’s going. Watch this space as it boldly goes forth to change the world for the better.