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JLL uses humour to tackle diversity and inclusion

In autumn 2014, international property company JLL launched a plan to increase diversity and inclusion across its UK business, which employs 3,500 people. The plan included a review and updates of its policies, training for senior leadership and management, establishing employee networks for under-represented groups and a communications programme to encourage an inclusive culture.

As part of this initiative, a series of six humorous videos, addressing subjects such as ageism, gender stereotypes and mental health in the workplace, were created to engage a ‘hard to reach’ corporate audience. Filmed as spoof documentaries featuring JLL staff and professional actors, the videos were scripted by comedy writer Kate Stone from Funny Women.

Each video was launched separately. They were sent to members of JLL’s diversity networks, who then sent links to each episode to groups of friends via email with a personal recommendation that they should watch the film. (In following this process, JLL hoped to cut through the raft of emails staff receive daily.) The viral campaign was supported by JLL’s weekly newsletter Roll on Friday and an explanation about the campaign was posted on the company’s intranet after each video had been distributed.

Comedy allowed JLL to engage with employees who would not normally engage with diversity training, but also helped demonstrate that it was a large corporate that does not take itself too seriously. As the delivery mechanism was not centralised, employees received videos at different times and days which JLL claimed created a ‘buzz’ as colleagues started to laugh and share the videos.

The videos have prompted an increase in conversations about diversity and inclusion and requests for advice from employees seeking to handle difficult situations. They are now being used as part of JLL’s graduate induction programme, and have been picked up by colleagues in Asia, America and EMEA.

While the judges felt that ‘it was hard to measure the impact’ of the videos, they found that they ‘tackled a difficult problem in a creative way’ and could see ‘how they would stimulate debate internally’.