In Brief: Cultivating Workplace Equality; Citing Academic Studies

April 1, 2019

Company Culture Isn’t Just About Employees Anymore

One of the keys to business success in 2019, according to the10company’s annual communications outlook, is prioritizing the needs of employees and consumers — as well as understanding the ways in which their needs intersect.  

“[This] is the year of power to the people,” says Valerie Di Maria, principal of the communications and marketing firm. “Whether you are an impassioned employee or a socially-conscious consumer, internal and external audiences are making their voices heard as never before.”

For business leaders, this “power” means that a strong company culture is as imperative as ever. With an increasing number of such “socially-conscious consumers” refusing to patronize companies that don’t treat their workers well or stick by their values, internal struggles — such as the Google employee walkout over sexual harassment — can be consequential outside the office, too. 

Writes the10company, “CEOs and boards are deepening their understanding that culture matters, and bad culture can destroy enterprises, even those with strong revenues and profits. Leaders will want to reexamine the mission, vision and values, and ensure that everyone in the company is living these important cultural cornerstones.”

Study: Workplace Equality Can Drive Innovation

New research from Accenture shows that by emphasizing equality among employees in the workplace, a company can drive innovation and growth.

In their survey, Accenture reported that 85 percent of employees in the “most-equal cultures” say they’re “not afraid to fail in the pursuit of innovation” and that the “innovation mindset is six times higher in the most-equal cultures than in the least-equal ones.”

How can companies foster this equality? Ellyn Shook, Accenture’s chief leadership and human resources officer, defines an “equal” office as a place where “people feel a sense of belonging and are valued by their employers for their unique contributions, perspectives and circumstances.”

Yet, it takes more than just embracing a workforce of varying ages, ethnicities and gender identities to create this environment. According to Accenture, it also depends on staff receiving “relevant skills training, flexible working arrangements and respect for work-life balance.” 

Why More Brands Are Moving Their Marketing In-House

With companies seeking greater control over their advertising teams, an increasing number of brands are dropping or altering their agency partnerships and taking their marketing functions in-house reports CNBC; 78 percent of Association of National Advertisers members “had some kind of in-house agency” in 2018.

For Charlie Makin, founder of digital agency Pintarget, this trend reflects the modern media campaign approach — which is no longer just about creating one national TV ad at a time. When content needs to be churned out quickly, it’s helpful to have your collaborators stationed down the hall. “Marketing clients need to be producers and manage multiple channels.”

However, large companies don’t always find success with in-house teams. Sophie Lewis, chief strategy officer at WPP agency VMLY&R, feels the external perspective is irreplaceable, and that assembling a first-rate marketing squad is harder than it looks.

“There are some examples of in-housing working,” she says. “But in general, you won’t get the talent, and if you don’t get the talent, you don’t get the ideas.”

What to Look for Before Citing an Academic Study

According to Nikki Usher, Ph.D., an associate professor at the University of Illinois in the College of Media, communicators need to do a better job researching the credibility of the academic studies they cite. Even prestigious schools, says Usher, share clickbait and promote pay-to-publish pieces.

“As journalists, it makes sense to go to the most authoritative institutions and voices when sourcing a story, but in the case of academic research, relying on someone’s scholarly reputation isn’t a good enough proxy for ensuring sound research,” she writes in the Columbia Journalism Review.

To be sure the study you’re about to quote is valid, check if it’s peer-reviewed, and that the review itself is legitimate. She also says to be wary of polls, which can feature the opinions of only a few people.

These checks can help prevent misinformation from spreading. “Not all academic research is created equal,” says Usher, “and introducing half-baked studies into public discourse can have lingering effects.” — Dean Essner


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