“Advertising Has A Very Strong Hand In Defining Culture”: CHE Proximity’s Chris Howatson

“Advertising Has A Very Strong Hand In Defining Culture”: CHE Proximity’s Chris Howatson
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Start getting excited, because Changing the Ratio is only one week away! This fabulous event will provide you with the tools you need to start making a positive change in your organisation – plus some game-changing ideas about how we can make inclusion and diversity the norm in our industry.

Sound good? Grab tickets here before they sell out!

We’ve got a killer speaker lineup, with headline keynotes like Lisa Wilkinson and Deng Thiak Adutand a whole bunch of fabulous keynotes and panellists.

One of those panellists is Chris Howatson, CEO of CHE Proximity Australia. He also won the Male Champion of Change Award at B&T‘s Women in Media Awards last year – which he said was “one of the proudest achievements”.

“I strongly believe I’ve grown up in a home (and hopefully a generation) that hasn’t been encumbered by gender, race or sexual bias,” he said.

And whilst CHE Proximity has introduced quotas to reach female diversity targets, Howatson said inclusion is also front of mind for the company.

“Inclusion is as an important factor as diversity. How people are involved, feel valued, secure and confident to be their best. So a lot of our efforts in the last 12 months have been on process, development planning and individual feedback,” he said.

Some of CHEP’s programs around inclusion include:

  • Significant investment in improving the quality of their relationships via interpersonal training (agency wide, focusing on self leadership principles, giving and receiving feedback)
  • A new development planning program and platform, designed to unlock opportunity by empowering individuals to be the master of their own development
  • Agency wide unconscious bias training
  • Improved hiring and advancement practices
  • Programs to celebrate and elevate diverse role models within the agency (A Seat At The Table)

“We’ve started by being crystal clear on understanding the problem and locking this in on the management agenda,” Howatson said.

“Participating and facilitating conversation is also an incredibly important part of creating change. The more we converge, collaborate and learn from each other, the closer we get to a solution.

“We are committed to being a champion of change and fuelling these opportunities to promote awareness and learning,” he continued.

Which is exactly why CHEP is not only on a panel for Changing the Ratio – they’re also sponsoring the event too.

Howatson is the moderator for the panel discussion on Cultivating the next generation of Male Champions of Change on event day, and said that “men have an important role to play in the active sponsorship of women” – meaning this panel discussion is a pretty important one given how little women are in CEO agency roles.

“The conversation needs participation from everyone, because we all have something to gain,” he said.

Howatson not only means men, but our industry as a whole.

“Advertising has a very strong hand in defining culture. If we’re leading change, we can help influence not only our own workplaces, but the wider Australian community,” he said.

“Promoting equality is a shared responsibility, and the absence of equality is a shared problem.”

Changing the Ratio will be held on May 28 at Sydney’s Belvoir St Theatre in Surry Hills. Grab tickets here, and for all other information, head to the website.

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