Our D&I initiative with a difference

Octopus Group has teamed up with two like-minded agencies – The Croc and The Marketing Practice – to collectively deliver an internal D&I initiative with a difference, sharing ideas and resources across our collective 300 employees.

IN is a series of conversations on diversity and inclusivity, the objectives of which are to enlighten, educate and spread awareness, in a light-hearted, informal setting, and are embodied by ‘a shared desire for everybody being able to be themselves at work’. 

The first one took place on Friday 26th February, with The Croc’s Robyn Pierce and The Marketing Practice’s Matt Harper speaking to our special guest, Catherine Bohart of The Mash Report, Mock The Week and solo stand up fame. In celebration of the last day of LGBTQ+ month, the afternoon’s topic of conversation was ‘being out at work’.

The trio talked through some of the trials and tribulations of sexuality in the workplace, including specific issues they’ve all experienced across their respective careers. 

Catherine recalled a particular incident where a woman stormed out of her show because she thought she was ‘disgusting and shouldn’t talk about her sex life’. In reality, Catherine had been talking about mental health, coming out and her relationship with her Dad of a catholic background. 

As comedians often do, Catherine got the last laugh in naming her subsequent stand up tour ‘Lemon’ after the woman’s yellow jumper, and a word which is also used as a slur for lesbians. What a way to win, hey?!

Another takeaway from the session was the flipside of the struggle, which Matt had experienced personally, commenting:

“I actually came out at work and to colleagues before I did my friends and family”.

He cited the supportive, inclusive environment as the reason for this, which was an insight into how workplace culture and attitudes can really make a difference for those from underrepresented backgrounds. 

Robyn provided the surprise statistic of the talk, in revealing how 2021 would be the FIRST year in history that National Census will capture data on sexuality and gender identity, providing robust data on how many LGBTQ+ people there actually are in the UK. Hard to believe isn’t it.

The session reflected on the good and the bad experiences of those involved, as well as reminding us all that there’s still work to be done. 

We’ve always encouraged Octopedes to be their true selves, and to treat the agency as a home from home. We’re a great place to work, but we’re not perfect and there’s more work to be done. I’m really proud we’ve been able to collaborate with two other great agencies to create something special. Whilst we’re competitors, we can all ultimately see the bigger picture and work towards a common goal, and that’s a great thing.

This was the first in the IN series of sessions – can’t wait for the next.