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Horizons, behaviour and bias — a global conversation

For part three of our Global Conversations series, we brought leading marketers from each of our global hubs together for an important conversation on current industry talking points to inspire fellow members.


This month's speakers:

Sophie Devonshire, Chief Executive, The Marketing Society (London)
Rajesh Kumar, VP & Head of Marketing - India & SAARC, UiPath (India)
Tricia Weener, Global Head of B2B Marketing, HSBC (APAC)
Mick Doran, Head of Research, Planning & Brand, Sainsbury's Bank (Scotland)
Asad Rehman, Unilever, Director Media & Digital Transformation, MENA, Unilever (Dubai)
Michelle Froah, SVP Global Marketing Strategy & Sciences, MetLife Inc (New York)


Here are some of the key things I took away from the session:

Expanding horizons

A theme that emerged was that senior marketers are becoming more involved in other areas of the business, particularly across the supply chain, which is giving them more insight to help with decision-making. Mirroring last month’s discussion, the speakers all highlighted the importance of real-time feedback from customer-facing staff, as this has been allowing them as leaders to make changes and adapt at speed.

Changing behaviour

The pandemic has forced consumers to change behaviour in a short space of time — this behaviour shift would normally take decades and cost billions of dollars in advertising and brand building. Changes include: becoming more aware of health and older generations adopting to digital and technology much faster. The ability to embed this as a habit has been important to create long-term adoption

Calling out bias

The Black Lives Matter protests have seen a momentum shift for humanity, with the coming together of multiple communities in what could be seen as a real turning point for many countries and societies around the world. Many brands have faced criticism for inaction or poorly judged action and support when they've got things right, but, crucially, it’s not just the brands but the leaders within them that will make the difference.

One speaker shared how their organisation has called out unconscious bias in board meetings. Another speaker shared their own personal commitments to making in difference by educating themselves and actively leading to create positive change within their own teams and departments. Marketers are in a unique position to have a positive impact through direct communication with customers and consumers. Now is the time for marketing leaders to listen, learn, but more importantly take decisive action that leads to equality.

Key takeaways

  • The role of marketers will be more important than ever in reshaping and building back better in a post-COVID world
  • We should be kind, helpful and not too hard on ourselves
  • Act with optimism and be decisive and confident
  • We need to come out of this situation more connected than ever
  • We need to continue our mission to make real change at pace
  • We should not underestimate our ability as marketers to make a real difference and effect consumer behaviour and confidence to spend
  • And most importantly… we should act with audacity