Wunderman’s global chief talent officer is a thought leader in human resources management.  Known for a candid, straightforward approach and her unmistakable laugh, Judy is driven to bring out the best in others. As a result of bringing Shine in to work with women at Wunderman, female senior leadership has doubled in size in one year; inspiring a movement and changing lives. Here she is in interview with Shine.

“We had a problem – and we needed to do something about it; we didn’t have enough women in senior positions. What we couldn’t work out was what exactly had brought us to that position. We knew that we needed to better identify what the barrier was for women; was it a problem in-house, was it better training or was it recruiting?

Then we got in touch with Shine For Women. We had heard about what other WPP companies like Maxus did – through a presentation from the CEO (Lindsay Pattison) and we looked for ways of finding our own solution. I spoke to Anna on the phone – and it was a breath of fresh air. She talked about working with ‘the whole person’ – not just a woman’s work role, but all their other roles; mother, carer, daughter, wife. It wasn’t about what the women lacked but about building up who they were and then focussing them on what they wanted to become using their strengths. I came off the phone and thought – she’s the one! It wasn’t like ‘let me get back to you and interview a few people’ there was NO question. I spoke to Anna and Cal and then I went back to Mark Read and I said ‘I spoke to Shine and I LOVED them!’ To me it was kismet!

What Shine helped us to discover was that the barrier was confidence. We hadn’t clearly considered that we needed to create an environment where women had a voice and where men ‘gave their permission’ for women to have a voice. We didn’t realise how critical that was – and so different for the men than it was for the women. It was an education for the women – but it was SUCH an education for us.

We began to recognise that women think ‘only two of us can be at the top’ – which ends up with them unintentionally not being as supportive as they could be to the women below – so it inspired us to create mentorships and that has proved to be a huge success. We normally expect people to come back with a good experience but they came back transformed.

“Shine surpassed our expectations.

For everyone at Wunderman, their practice has evolved beyond just a programme and become a movement within our organisation. You could not ask for anything more in terms of making an impact.”

2018 is said to be ‘the year of the woman’. There’s a real buzz. But we need to harness it. We need to make sure that we are having meaningful conversations about women and diversity around the leadership table. We must make sure that our CEOs are comfortable with that conversation and happy to make it part of his or her agenda.

Wunderman is a company that focuses on data. So what we are trying to do now is to use that around our clients, around gender diversity and to introduce the relevant policies. So we have rigorous processes looking at our salary increases and how they are being applied – are they stuck? Monitoring our recruiting – pushing to make sure that there are at least two finalists for each VP and above position. I think the key is holding ourselves accountable and making sure that we are ‘front and centre’; visible and bold about what is required.

What we had to make sure with bringing Shine in, was that we had to make sure that this wasn’t just ‘the event’. We only sent 150 women worldwide – but we have to now show it commitment; it HAD to be a part of our ongoing mission. So we do the mentorship too. We would love to do it with every women in the company!

Normally what you expect – even though you hope for something different – is that you have a great session, and then you go back to work energised. You hope to make an impact. But what really did happen as a result of Shine was that we created a movement. People came back to the regions and really embraced ‘passing it on’.

Mark Read was a genius at calling the movement Pass It On. Nobody liked the name! Everyone thought it sounded like a virus! You thought it sounded like people were dying! But he is the CEO for a reason and we went with it. Wow! The words ‘pass it on’ have now become synonymous with the women coming back and passing on their learnings and their spirit. They have passed on their mentorship and the momentum. That name was genius! Nobody but Mark thought it was. People came back with the courage to say ‘I want to be CEO one day’. Men were always confident to say things like that, but the women were scared in case they sounded aggressive. We gave women to voice a wish, a dream and future which they had never previously felt they had the courage or the permission to do. THAt is life changing! It was life changing for the men as well as the women. The men were around women that were demonstrating such a level of confidence – another interesting challenge to manage!

We thought people would get a great experience, we didn’t expect that it would change people’s lives.”