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Inspiration Personified: Patrick Kane



Wunderman Thompson global growth manager on what makes him crave more cultural inspiration at work

Inspiration Personified: Patrick Kane

Wunderman Thompson are the inspiration experts. Because of this, we know that inspiration doesn’t come from any one place, but rather it should be drawn upon from a diverse and inclusive culture. 

This allows us to see things differently, to reject conventional thinking and to push the boundaries of creative bravery. The emergence of hybrid working environments has meant that finding opportunities for meaningful connections and a sense of belonging are more important to protect and nurture than ever before. 

In this new environment, it’s imperative for businesses to actively build a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace where everyone feels welcome, valued, and heard. Our Business Employee Resource Groups are just one way we bring people together and provide a positive forum for development, education and idea exchange around a common interest. 

We now have 20 of these groups across the Wunderman Thompson network devoted to topics such as AAPI, Sustainability, Marginalised Ethnicities, Disability, Women and more. They’re a key component of what makes Wunderman Thompson inspiration experts, and ensure that their core values are reflected in every aspect of the company. 

In 2022 the company added Business to the existing ERG programme, which creates more opportunities for the diverse voices of employees to directly impact their work. This is just one way we’re putting inclusive experiences at the heart of our business to help drive growth for our clients, and something we’re passionate about sharing to inspire the wider industry. By incorporating these groups, we take ownership and responsibility for creating culturally competent work that drives conversation to enrich our culture and wider society.

Here are thoughts from their members on what inspired their creation, and how they use them to inspire change from their corner of the world.

Name: Patrick Kane

Title: Global Growth Manager

City: London

Business Employee Resource Group / Affinity: Access All Areas

Q> Could you give us a short introduction about yourself and your role?

Patrick> My name is Patrick Kane and I recently began a role as global growth manager in our global marketing team, based in London. I have been at Wunderman Thompson since April 2021 when I joined the Catalyst Academy, which is a rotational programme designed to develop the marketeers of the future by exposing them to a variety of departments and expertise. I also founded Access All Areas, our Business Employee Resource Group (BERG) related to all-things disability and accessibility. I myself am a triple amputee, and enjoy bringing this perspective into all aspects of my work and life.

Q> What made you crave more cultural inspiration at work?

Patrick> Personally, I feel it’s really important to bring my whole self to work and not feel like I need to keep my personal and professional lives separate. One aspect where this is particularly evident is my disability, because as a triple amputee, I can’t just ignore this in a professional environment and leave it at home. An accessible culture of inclusion is something every good workplace has, and I was delighted to help encourage this by founding Access All Areas within my first year of joining Wunderman Thompson at the end of 2021.

Q> What is the purpose of your group? What is the change you are trying to achieve?

Patrick> Our purpose statement is to inspire the work and workplaces of Wunderman Thompson to reflect the disabilities, both seen and unseen, that we all experience at multiple points in our lives. With roughly 15% of people having a disability, and 70% of these being “invisible”, disabled employees have always been present in the workplace, but we have been trying to create policies, frameworks, and initiatives to cater for these needs and make everyone feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work, as this is when we are at our best.

Q> Why is your group important to the culture of Wunderman Thompson / the wider industry? 

Patrick> I may be a little biased, but I think disability is one of the most interesting marginalised groups due to its size and the fact it is truly intersectional. When you combine this with the fact that anyone can become disabled at any point in their lives, and that we all benefit from better accessibility, our contribution to culture is to keep these issues at the forefront so that we reap the rewards of this diverse and innovative community.

Q> What’s been the best part about being involved in your group?

Patrick> Definitely the difference in opinion between our members. It is reductive to think that a group of people who share one characteristic under a broad term will all have similar opinions, and it is fascinating learning how and why we differ. Some members are extroverted with how they communicate their disabilities, whereas others see it as a more personal matter that doesn’t need much discussion. Either way, this genuine diversity is valid and only serves to further strengthen our cause.

Q> What happens when you get together?

Patrick> We create real change and educate those around us! We call on our members for a variety of reasons, be it to help guide client work to ensure it is authentic and representative, or even as a safe space to ensure their voices are being heard. December 3rd was the International Day of Disabled Persons, and it’s important for our group to recognise this each year. Last year we ran an internal panel discussion titled “What is Disability?” but this year we wanted to do something different. We have a quarterly EMEA-wide ‘zine called ‘Spot the Difference’. The ‘zine is usually dedicated to all the beautiful diversity across the region, but for this edition we have “taken over” to explore all of the diversity under the term of disability. This edition celebrates the diversity within that term, as well as the similarities between some of our EMEA employees and everyone else. All of the editions are beautifully designed, and if you want to learn more for yourself you can read it here.

Q> How has your group effected change in the industry/within Wunderman Thompson? 

Patrick> We have a few contributions to Wunderman Thompson and beyond that we are especially proud of in the first year since we formed. The previously mentioned panel was our launch event, and it was available for the whole of WPP to enjoy and learn from. Since then, we have been inputting on client work too. For one global brand, we were consulted on how to help create an accessible campaign with both disabled talent both in front of and behind the camera. Another piece we were proud to be involved with was coming up with accessible alternative options for an in-person activations. As a relatively new group, we have ambitions to implement a wiki-like framework with examples to facilitate the entire network to learn how to best hire and retain disabled talent, which is an exciting project which will be going live in the new year!

Q> How can these groups impact the wider industry?

Patrick> Disabled people should be talent that the industry is actively trying to recruit. They think and see things differently, and are naturally creative problem solvers. Creating groups such as Access All Areas lets disabled people know they will have a voice specifically to talk about this part of their lives (if they want to), there is potential for massive industry wide change for both ourselves and our clients. I foresee an explosion of creative work across the industry by those who do it best.

Q> Why is community important to you and what makes a good workplace community?

Patrick> Community is vital. It’s both a safe space for personal thoughts to be shared, while also an opportunity to challenge your own preconceptions. When I was growing up, I distanced myself from the disabled community because I believed the term didn’t apply to me; I could do everything I wanted to. Without community, I wouldn’t have realised how damaging that was, and would have ended up implementing some of the change I am now.

As much as it sounds like a cliché, a good workplace community relies on openness and honesty. The chance to have like-minded individuals brought together to discuss issues which are important to them can’t happen without first letting everyone know they can discuss issues freely in whichever way suits them. Allyship and senior executive sponsorship has also been key to our community, to ensure actions are championed outwards from the group to the places where they need to be implemented most.

Q> How do you stay connected to one another?

Patrick> Accessibility is everything to our community, so I think we are naturally quite good at staying connected! It was for this very reason that we decided to form as Wunderman Thompson’s first ever regional BERG. We know the importance of having virtual events so we can engage as many people as possible from across the EMEA region.

Support comes in a variety of forms for our community. Connecting and buddying up people with similar lived experiences from across the region has been a big help, but even just asking how people need support and then acting makes a world of difference. It has to also be said that having close ties to our People teams makes a real difference when it comes to supporting each other.

Q> What inspires you about people? And how does your group inspire you/others?

Patrick> Our differences! Everyone you ever meet knows something that you don’t, and I think the people around us are a wonderful, authentic opportunity to learn and become better versions of ourselves. I also find it fascinating that the more I learn about different cultures, the more you appreciate some of the universal human truths and stories that we all have in common. On the disability community specifically, we are naturally adept at solving problems and finding ‘our’ way of doing things, and seeing some of the innovative ways that disabled colleagues and the wider community do things is always inspirational (and helpful)!

Q> What is your advice for other agencies who are looking to foster a sense of community among employees, and expand the work they are doing internally to effect change for their clients/the industry?

Patrick> The short answer is making sure you listen to your internal, authentic voice. But there is a lot of work which gets you to this point. Authenticity requires the right people, but also having the right infrastructure in place to keep them. If you leap before you look, you may end up getting hurt! To avoid this injury, you can audit the protocols and processes that you have in place to know that when you hire the right people, you have everything you need to keep them.

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Wunderman Thompson London, Mon, 05 Dec 2022 15:43:00 GMT