A Tribal take on diversity

Sally Boulton, Head of Talent for Tribal Worldwide, reveals how they embrace diverse people within their agency.

So here we are, 150 of us the heart of Paddington, 150 and 24 nationalities in fact. I don’t know how we got here. It wasn’t deliberate it’s just the way it happened. It’s just about the best person for the role, regardless of their origin or background.

They just have to be a Tribal person and our motto is and always has been in this building, you have to be talented and you have to be nice, so thank you Bill Bernbach for that.

So we try not to make too much of a fuss, being respectful is the most important thing and it seems to come quite naturally here. I have learnt that in fact drawing attention to our diversity all the time is actually not what people want. As an example, during certain religious periods when people need to fast we have found that people want to get on with it in their own way, what they don’t want is an email from the agency announcing it and stipulating certain do’s and don’ts of behaviour. It just needs to be quietly observed and respected and that is how it is.

There are some things that you should think about though, being mindful that many of our people don’t drink alcohol for example and making sure that company events don’t always revolve around excessive alcohol consumption. Adding more vegetarian and vegan food options to company events is also important. You may think these are small things but they really matter and help people to feel included.

In addition I’m proud that we have a multi-faith prayer room in the building, all thanks to the wonderful people in our office services department who saw some of our staff trying to pray in the cleaning store and car park.  It’s a quiet space for everyone to share. Again no big fuss an easy fix that made people very, very happy.

Over the last year many people have joined Tribal, coming directly to London and not having any previous experience of working in the UK. This has presented a number of new challenges that I’ve enjoyed helping to solve. Imagine arriving in a strange city, often alone away from family and friends. It can have an impact on even the most worldly individual’s wellbeing.

Finding somewhere to live, setting up a bank account even knowing where to buy food can be a problem. The impact of the weather here is not to be under estimated either. Last year, one of our team returned to their country of origin because of the lack of sunshine. There is also the challenge of different ways of working and styles of communication. I have had to think a bit more about additional support during the on-boarding process. It could be as much about giving people just a bit more of your time to help them adjust. Language lessons are now a line item in my annual training budget.

So what more can I say? I am afraid I don’t have any radical new ideas. Only that, and this comes from a very personal viewpoint; I am really very lucky to work with so many talented people from different backgrounds and with different life experiences. It makes our work environment stronger and our work better.

Sally Boulton is Head of Talent for Tribal Worldwide and over the last 18 years, she has helped build one of the most diverse teams in a London agency.

If you need help making your agency more diverse, contact the IPA’s Head of Diversity Leila Siddiqi: leila@ipa.co.uk

Last updated 21 January 2022