Sameena Balram and Claire Mirisola

Strategy Lead and Lead Copywriter in the United States

The Dentsu Creative Academy is a platform offering learning modules and creative inspiration for all Dentsu Aegis Network creative employees. Interviews are featured to promote new modules as they are launched on the platform, to get know our people, and to connect our colleagues around the world.

This month’s interview features colleagues passionate about Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Sameena Balram, Strategy Lead and Claire Mirisola, Lead Copywriter in the United States. Sameena and Claire have curated the D&I learning module and responded to the below interview on the topic.

1. How are you finding working from home during this pandemic and any tips to stay motivated?

We’re both incredibly grateful to be healthy during this pandemic. While working from home presents new challenges, we’ve found ways to thrive. We both have a routine for the workday whether that’s pouring a cup of coffee or working out for 15 minutes. We also try to avoid blending work and play as much as possible by putting away our computers at the end of the workday whenever that is. And we check in with our teams regularly.

2. Why is the topic of D&I important to you both?

We believe at some point everyone has felt excluded or other. That’s why we felt it was important for us to become advocates for Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at work and at home.

3. How have the recent events around BLM impacted you and your colleagues?

The Black Lives Matter movement awoke our organization to not just be not racist, but to be actively anti-racist. It has opened the door to conversations that were happening behind closed doors, too.

It’s not just about having D&I initiatives, but taking action every day to be a just, equitable, diverse and inclusive place people want to work. What has impressed us most is that our colleagues are each taking action in their own way. This isn’t just a flash in the pan. We all want our efforts to be both impactful and sustainable.

4. What are we doing to demonstrate Diversity and Inclusion in your office?

There’s a great initiative within Isobar US, part of Dentsu Aegis Network, called Belong Here. Belong Here was started by employees for employees, and their mission is to create an environment where people feel more than included, but that they belong. In recent months, Belong Here has grown exponentially. Belong Here has a book club that was founded by Sameena which reads and discusses a book from a diverse perspective (starting with ‘How to be an Anti-racist’) on a bimonthly basis.

5. Why is it important that people watch the learning and better educate themselves on being anti-racist, and about unconscious bias in the workplace?

Everyone has bias. It’s part of how our brains work. By learning about unconscious bias, we take responsibility for our minds.

Education has a tremendous impact on how we see the world and is the fuel that can create change. It’s like crawling before you walk before you run. Learning and education is an essential part of the journey to a truly just, equitable, diverse and inclusive society.

 6. How do you feel we can all be better advocates of anti-racism in the workplace?

We can all be better advocates of anti-racism in the workplace. First and foremost, using our voices. It’s hard to speak up sometimes but speaking out against racism is paramount. It’s also key to be aware of your privilege and act accordingly. Support those who may be from marginalized communities or experience otherness.

Dentsu Aegis Network have spent time listening to its people of colour and minority groups across the network to understand their individual and collective experiences and hopes for the future. We have evolved and enhanced our commitment to Inclusion & Diversity by agreeing a set of global principles that articulate our brands long-term commitment to systemic change for a future where we have a fair and equitable workplace representing the societies in which we operate.

These principles provide a common framework to guide action throughout Dentsu Aegis Network and are grounded in our culture and values of fairness, respect, equality and diversity. They are unequivocal and will ensure that racism and discrimination in any form is not tolerated in any of our markets across the network.