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Inclusive remote working with WPP 

By Kelly Monday, Microsoft’s Global Account Director for WPP

love my job! I get to work with a great team and an interesting and unique customer. I have been able to combine work with a personal passion for accessibility. As a dyslexic, helping people work in a more inclusive and accessible way with Microsoft technology is really rewarding for me. WPP wants to put inclusion at the heart of everything it does for its people, which echoes Microsoft’s belief that different perspectives help us all to achieve more. Through technology, we are able to help WPP create an environment where people from diverse backgrounds are excited to bring all of who they are to work and do their best work. 

WPP is passionate about inclusive marketing and how brands can give a voice to everyone. For WPP, being inclusive is a core part of its business strategy and vision. WPP understands the power of creative campaigns: the company influences what we consume but also shapes our aspirations. WPP recognises it has a real opportunity to bring about positive change. This is why it is working in partnership with clients to ensure campaigns reflect the diversity of society 

I am lucky to work for and with organisations that are passionate about a culture that puts inclusion at the heart of diversity, and Microsoft and WPP are executing internal and external initiatives that build awareness and capability. 

Creating a Champions Network

Recently, I have had the pleasure of working with Nancy Lengthorn, Managing Partner and Head of Inclusion and Belonging for WPP UK. When we met, we quickly connected on the importance of inclusion and how accessibility was key to achieving a more inclusive working environment. We discussed creating a champions group in the UK to educate people on how to use built-in accessibility features in Microsoft technologies.  

When COVID19 hitWPP had to move 95% of its workforce to remote working, and Microsoft Teams Live Events became a critical communication platform. What became clear to Nancy was that WPP needed to accelerate the campaign for built-in accessibility. More than ever, people would need technology to help them work remotely and be inclusive. Accessible technology is a big part of supporting workforce and enabling everyone to do their best work, regardless of circumstance

WPP UK quickly brought 85 champions together to learn how to use built-in accessibility features in Microsoft technologies, and how they can help WPP with inclusivity and remote working. This team will be evangelistspositively promoting benefits and helping colleagues understand how to use these capabilities.  

WPP UK quickly brought 85 champions together to learn how to use built-in accessibility features in Microsoft technologies, and how they can help WPP with inclusivity and remote working. This team will be evangelistspositively promoting benefits and helping colleagues understand how to use these capabilities.  

“Working with Kelly and Microsoft has enabled us to really speed up our inclusion work. Improving systems and processes is vital to inclusion and diversity and there can’t be a more critical system to improve than how we communicate with each other. The initiatives we are putting in place will really help us all to be more authentic and more effective, both with each other and our clients. This is about helping everyone to flourish and Microsoft have been a brilliant partner”

 Nancy Lengthorn, Managing Partner & Head of Inclusion & Belonging for WPP UK 

The Creative Brilliance of Dyslexia  

Finally, the WPP and Microsoft partnership focused on Dyslexia. Dyslexia is a mainstream accessibility needaffecting an estimated one in 10 peopleMore businesses need creative people, and industries such as advertising, media, technology and the arts are all actively looking at hiring more people with dyslexia. Gone are the days when workplaces only prized people with the “three Rs” (reading, writing and arithmetic). 

History has shown that great dyslexic minds can bring tremendous gifts to the world if they feel empowered and learn to see dyslexia differently. Many people with dyslexia are highly successful, becoming experts and celebrities in their field. Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Agatha Christie, Jamie Oliver, Jennifer Aniston, Lewis Hamilton, Keira Knightley, Albert Einstein and Henry Ford all triumphed over their difficulties and went on to develop their often exceptional gifts. 

Given that dyslexic thinking has a natural bias towards creativity and communication, people with Dyslexia are a huge asset for companies like WPP, providing a unique talent pool within the creative industry. On the April 30, Microsoft hosted a WPP event entitled “The Creative Brilliance of Dyslexia”Karen Blackett OBE, UK Country Manager and CEO of GroupM UK (a WPP Company), kicked off the event by talking about the importance of inclusionShe explained how 60% of people will be covering – suppressing and hiding their real selves – and pointed to the fact that 75% of dyslexics will not disclose that they are dyslexic. Karen stressed that WPP wants people to be their true selves and feel like they belong 

Kate Griggs, CEO and founder of the Made by Dyslexia charity, gave a keynote to 25people across WPP about the strengths of dyslexia and how it is soughtafter skill for creative companies. She pointed to research from EY on the value of dyslexiaKate was joined by role models from across WPP – Jonathan HuntCreative Technologist; Erica Ingham, CFO of MediaCom North; Richard Johnstone, VMLY&R Managing Partner; Steve Hatch, Facebook VP Northern Europe and myself. All these role models shared their personal journey as successful dyslexics who embrace their diversity of thought and the creative bias that Dyslexia provides. We all took part in an engaging Q&A where we discussed the stigma of Dyslexia, the need to focus on strengths, how managers can help employees with dyslexia to flourish, how you help children become more confidentand how they have “covered” their true selves and to become more open and proud of their dyslexia. Everyone shared how they have dealt with these issuesdiscussing how helping others through role models and empowerment is really important and the importance of being brave to “own” dyslexia. This openness was appreciated by all.  

Finally, Hector Minto, Accessibility and Inclusion Evangelist at Microsoft, discussed how technology is a game changer for dyslexics, demonstrating Microsoft’s Learning Tools and providing tips on remote workingHector was able to show how technology is removing the traditional barriers that dyslexics face. 

Working with WPP to help empower people with more inclusive way of working, at a time when remote working has become the only option, has been an awesome experienceWorking with passionate people at WPP, who understand the importance of inclusion, gives us purpose to our engagements. This is just a small part of how WPP is facilitating a culture of inclusion and sets a great example to many organisations on how to work with Microsoft and use the technology that’s available.  

Using Microsoft Teams Live Events was a more inclusive way to host these events, allowing more people to attend, without the restrictions of travel and location. The live event replay capability allows people to replay all sessions on their own time. 

Want to know more?  

Please see the short series of videos now available which companies can use to help empower more inclusive remote working environment. For additional content, visit MSFT Enable on YouTube.