Oliver – the only company in the world to exclusively design, build and run in-house agencies and ecosystems for brands – is creating a new era of inclusion officers to drive deep belonging, not simply diversity. The new team will drive Oliver’s commitment to be an actively anti-racist organisation.
Amina Folarin, who heads-up Oliver’s global HR and people function, steps into the new role of Global Chief Inclusion Officer. Folarin has been pivotal in building Oliver’s industry-leading people programmes and, in 2020, led the business to address deeper societal issues surrounding racism and equity. Her activism drove every employee and member of the Global Leadership Team to receive anti-racism training across a six-month period, as well as partner with the Brixton Finishing School and even launch a series of interviews with influential figures such as Akala. Joining Amina is Sagina Shabaya, who becomes Oliver’s first Head of Inclusion, Diversity and Belonging for EMEA. Shabaya moves from Raconteur where she was the publisher’s first global inclusion lead. In her new post, Shabaya will develop training programmes to grow a deep sense of belonging for every one of Oliver’s 2500+ individuals across 200+ in-house teams, as well as deliver a five-year strategy for inclusion in the workplace.
Theresa Sarbeng in Oliver’s US business has also been promoted to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Partner. Sarbeng’s role is to take inventory wherever diverse representation is lacking and to encourage every employee to have more of a voice on matters of belonging.
Folarin said: “The creative industries often approach this important area the wrong way around – hiring people of a certain colour or background and calling it diversity. But they don’t go deep enough into the area of inclusion, which is where you create a space for diverse candidates to feel welcome. When inclusion truly sits at the heart of your business, then diversity happens naturally. I’m thrilled to have Sagina on the team, sharing this journey with us.”
Shabaya added: “My career has been all about doing things differently in order to have a positive impact, and I’m proud to join a business that’s doing the same. Oliver, as one of the world’s fastest growing businesses, has an important role to play – and is playing it. Not only can we teach our own people about inclusion, but we can help influence the brands that we work inside every single day.”
The team will work with the business’ 40+ Change Makers (the business’ global ambassadors for anti-racism education) to deliver an inclusion-based strategy that educates employees about the psychology of belonging and that naturally implements more diverse hiring practices as a result. Through this work, the team aims to increase non-white representation in its leadership team to 30%, as well as achieve a 50/50 split across the business.
Today, Oliver has been ranked #1 in Adweek’s Fastest Growing List having grown 380% over the last three years across the US alone. The business, known for pioneering the in-house agency model in 2004, was also named in The Drum’s New Year Honours List 2020. According to the World Federation of Advertisers, 57% of multinationals now have in-house marketing capabilities, with a view to increase in-house operations further due to the COVID-19 pandemic.