Winner: FleishmanHillard Fishburn
Judges commended FHF for the strength of its culture and for running some industry-leading programmes, including steps it is taking to attract diverse talent.
One innovation from 2019 was the 'shadow board', which aims to involve employees more in the agency. A group of employees at account director level and below feed back to the executive committee, supporting them in their key decisions. There is also 'reverse mentoring' between the executive committee and the shadow board.
The agency's vision is to be the "most diverse and inclusive PR agency in London". It has a D&I committee, with five sub-groups focused on the priorities of mental health, hidden disabilities, ethnic minorities, socio-economic and inclusive behaviours. All staff have undergone unconscious-bias training.
In 2019, it launched The Residency, which offers fully paid work experience or short internships for people from diverse ethnic or socio-economic backgrounds. It also launched the Afro-Caribbean employee resource group.
FHF partnered the PRCA to support its Schools Outreach Programme and has 12 volunteers – more than any other agency – ready to give talks at underprivileged schools on a career in PR.
The agency has introduced a 'charter' called 'The Regs', which outlines how staff should behave to one another – there are plans to roll this out to clients. FHF has walked away from a number of clients where it believed its staff were mistreated.
To support employees during the coronavirus crisis, deputy chief executive Ali Gee offers them daily updates. Each member of staff is checked in with face to face (via video) daily.
Leadership and managers have been trained in mental-health awareness, and the agency takes a proactive approach to identify individuals who have issues. It offers private medical insurance, including access to professional mental-health support, psychotherapy and a virtual GP. This coverage extends to their families too.
Staff are also provided with access to clinicians who offer support and guidance on sleep, nutrition, mindfulness, building resilience and dealing with stress.
Highly Commended: BCW
Having formed from the merger of Burson Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe in 2018, last year was when the culture of the agency really coalesced, contributing to an excellent entry.
At a global and UK level, BCW has a board member dedicated to culture, which has helped oversee the process of cultural as well as physical integration.
Flexible working is a key part of the offer. BCW operates a policy called "collaboration time", currently 10am to 4pm, during which staff need to be available to collaborate with colleagues. There's flexibility on working outside these core hours.
BCW allows staff with caring responsibilities to fulfil them without needing to make a formal request. It also operates a buddy system for returning parents; counselling and guidance; childcare vouchers and extensions to family cover on existing benefits such as private medical, dental and travel insurance.
The agency's Wellbeing Programme offers biannual Wellbeing Festivals (week-long events featuring wellbeing-focused education sessions and workshops), regular access to massages, yoga, meditation, mindfulness and a £100 "Wellbeing Allowance" for staff to put toward personalised activities. Twenty employees are Mental Health First Aiders.