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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Chicago company shines in HRC report—again
by Ross Forman
2011-01-05

This article shared 3936 times since Wed Jan 5, 2011
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Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG) has this perfection thing down pat.

For the fifth year in a row, the media agency network scored 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Corporate Equality Index. SMG's perfect score in the advertising and marketing category was based on the criteria of employer equal opportunity, employee benefits and company-wide diversity programs.

"We're thrilled about our performance on the Corporate Equality Index as it reflects our continuing tradition of and support for diversity," said SMG Executive Vice President and Global Talent Director Bernard Bedon. "Starcom MediaVest Group applauds the work of the Human Rights Campaign as we aim to promote and support initiatives for our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees. We will continue to work to enrich our employee population with varied backgrounds and unique perspectives to deliver innovative ideas, foster growth and connect with people in our diverse world."

Added Alyson Stevens, SMG senior vice president/global director, human experience strategy: "Five years with a perfect score? Not to be cliché, but it feels pretty fabulous. Honestly, we consider it a real point of pride, representative of our long-standing and rigorous dedication to all forms of personal diversity here at the agency—in terms of how we relate to consumers and how we nurture our own talent."

Stevens, 37, who has worked for SMG for 14 years, said it's very important for companies from the advertising industry be properly represented on the Index, "as it's our shared profession to speak to people from all walks of life, fairly and respectfully, on behalf of marketers. Respect for diversity within our companies will lead to respect for diversity in our communications and campaigns, and the Index is a good benchmark for our collective progress as an industry in this area."

SMG employs about 1,000 people in its Chicago office, with a mix of males and females, and a very diverse workforce. "We really work hard to create a work environment that is inclusive and rewarding for people from diverse backgrounds with diverse interests, and that takes into account that not all people are inspired and motivated by the same things," Stevens said. "We have many, many ways for people to get involved and make a difference with their teams both at work and in the community.

"Starcom MediaVest Group has spent the year reinventing itself as a company dedicated to human experience, meaning, we're aiming to look at and understand people from a growing variety of perspectives, to create for them the sort of brand experiences and interactions they want. In short, our 100 percent is a strong sign we're providing our own people with a satisfying human experience, and empowering them to better understand all sorts of people—which improves our business."

Stevens said the five-year stretch truly shows that SMG's management "has made respect for GLBT people and all human beings a consistent priority, which lays a solid groundwork for more positive momentum and action moving forward.

"As a company, we have continually strived to achieve high standards of policies, benefits, training and employee engagement each year. Even in the most challenging economic times, we continue to offer same- or opposite-sex domestic partner coverage on all of our benefits, two weeks paid parental leave for new parents as well as their spouses and partners, and two paid days off annually for marriage or commitment ceremonies. We recently enriched our Adoption Assistance offering, covering two weeks of parental leave plus $5,000 in adoption assistance to employees."

Stevens said SMG's strong push for diversity helps create "more creative solutions to whatever the market sends our way."

SMG, for instance, supports a variety of L.I.N.K.S. (Lifestyle and Interest Networks for Knowledge and Support) communities. "These communities serve to provide a sense of connection among different groups of employees depending on their background, interests and beyond," Stevens said.

So how will SMG score perfection again in 2011?

"We understand that the requirements will get much more rigorous in 2011, but we are looking at ways to strengthen our already rich benefits and perks package, as well as training programs and to continue to support our employee-led GLBTA affinity group," Stevens said.

"We're particularly proud that we've been the leading advertising and marketing company in the index for so many years. It's good to belong to a group of people that not only respects your individuality, but also really encourages you to use your personal strengths towards the growth of some of the world's most creative, well-known brands. We're all just people trying to connect with people in the best way we can, inside and out, and that's a really good feeling."

HRC releases an annual Corporate Equality Index that details the progress of LGBT rights in Corporate America. Beyond the index report, businesses rated 100 percent are recognized in the companion document Best Places to Work list, released at the beginning of each calendar year.

The Corporate Equality Index 2011 report is available at www.hrc.org/cei.


This article shared 3936 times since Wed Jan 5, 2011
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