Last week FIPP held a webinar in partnership with The River Group, honing-in on the organisation’s latest launch: Reflect. The diversity and inclusion focussed talent management agency was launched in October and here Nicola Murphy – Group Chief Executive for River – and the team, talk us through the initial concept behind the agency as well as the early stages of its implementation.
“Reflect will be seeking out, supporting, and managing the careers of influencers who are diverse,” Nicola opened by telling us. “And influencers therefore, who don’t necessarily see themselves in today’s media. For example, 22% of the UK population has a disability of some sort, but think about it… 20% of the people you see in the newspaper, or on TV, or in outdoor media, they are not disabled.”
“They are an underrepresented group. As are a number of others… LGBTQ, older people, much younger people, those with facial differences, neurodiverse people, and the list goes on. So what we want to do as media professionals is to make media more inclusive and that’s what Reflect really is.”
A more inclusive approach to inclusivity
Joining Nicola on the webinar was Mark Webb, Head of Comms for Shift.ms and Shadow Board Member for Reflect. He highlighted that while (at least some) work has been done in terms of greater representation as regards ethnicity and sexuality, the issue of disability can still be one that many brands seem reluctant to tackle.
“Arguably we are getting quite good with gender, even though I like to point out that it’s 100 years since the Suffragettes ran in front of a horse to win women the vote and we still don’t have equal job opportunities and pay for women. But ok, we’re doing OK with gender, we’re doing OK with BAME, we’re doing OK with sexuality, even though we could still do more.”
“But then disability – despite being the largest minority – still kindof has to fight to get to the table. So I was so proud that the first thing that Reflect did when we outed ourselves was Purple Tuesday, an event which trended number two worldwide briefly, partly because of my awful clothing I suspect!”
Do not think in boxes: understanding intersectionality
Webb also explained why intersectionality is so important when it comes to accurate representation in the media, and throughout society. By simply going through a box ticking exercise, it can be very easy to begin thinking in boxes, and forget that no one individual is confined to one single demographic group.
‘Intersectionality… that word that I struggle to say with my multiple sclerosis brain to tongue problem! What we need to find is some gay, Asian, disabled people so we can cover everything off! But y’know, I’m a privileged, white, middle-class man, I get that. And I know I only look 21, but I am now approaching middle age and so entering into another area of diversity.”
It was a fascinating and wide-ranging virtual session during which the panel spoke openly, candidly, and with pragmatic insight into how the media can better represent the increasingly diverse world in which we find ourselves today. We need more conversations like this, not only in our industry but beyond, and you can find out more about reflect specifically here.