An interview with Definition’s Head of People & Culture
Six months after stepping into the role of Head of People and Culture at Definition, Rebecca Jackson shares her views on the people challenges affecting our industry.
Tell us about yourself
I’m a Client Service Director and Head of People and Culture at Definition. I’ve been with the agency for nearly nine years, joining from the Daily Telegraph in London where I previously worked as a content editor.
I moved into PR as I wanted to be more involved in the creative side of affecting and implementing change through issues-based campaigns and I cut my teeth working for our social housing clients before helping to build the health, wellbeing and charity division within Definition. I’ve worked on some fantastic national and international campaigns to raise awareness of a range of issues, from launching fundraising drives with the British Royal Family to unveiling new charities at the London Stock Exchange.
Why did you choose to go into people and culture?
We’ve always tried hard to make Definition a great place to work and an agency that takes care of its employees, as well as its clients, and have always had a team creating and delivering social events, training and development, but as we’ve grown the Board wanted to really formalise its commitment to ensuring a positive culture for everyone within the business, so I volunteered! It’s a great opportunity to reinforce and strengthen what we’re already doing and I really like the fact that it’s a genuine focus for the business so there’s opportunity to do meaningful things.
What are the biggest people and culture challenges facing the industry?
It’s well-known that attracting candidates and building a team with a variety of backgrounds has always been a challenge for the PR industry. The CIPR’s annual State of the Profession survey showed that PR is making no progress towards becoming more diverse and inclusive and this year the organisation has said it will carry out a rigorous assessment of its culture and performance in to identify how this can change. The CIPR itself says that our sector is home to a lot of bad practice and unconscious bias – everyone has a responsibility to challenge themselves and their organisations to see what can be done better, and commit to making that change.
What is Definition doing to address these?
We know we’re not doing enough right now, and we need to be part of the movement of change in the sector, but before we start doing anything externally, we want to see what we need to change internally and are in the process of looking at accreditation programmes to assess how we’re doing.
There are many other issues we want to address through our People and Culture work: making sure we’re a sustainable business, and that we’re reducing our environmental impact as much we can; ensuring the wellbeing of our staff, especially when working remotely, and establishing clear training and progression opportunities for everyone in the Group.
What’s not working?
The changing restrictions around the pandemic have made it hard to safely get our teams together and we know it impacts on issues including wellbeing, support and training for members of the team, and even creativity. It’s also difficult to engage a growing team with different needs whilst working fully remotely, so a move towards being in the office more and being able to enjoy our newly-integrated teams will be extremely valuable in continuing to build and strengthen our culture.