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How Merkle’s partnership with I Can Be immersed young girls in the fast-moving world of data and marketing

The importance of building strong, inclusive cultures has never been so essential in modern businesses. In line with this, at Merkle we’ve developed clear diversity, equity and inclusion values, which embrace gender equity goals.

I’m also a firm believer in the power of partnership and in finding allies to take inclusion beyond the walls of our own organisation. We’re intent on not just supporting the women at Merkle but are actively looking to inspire the next generation too, as it’s so important to empower women in data now and in the future.

That’s why Merkle has partnered with I Can Be, a charity which brings 7 and 8-year-old girls into the world of work, introducing them to inspiring women and helping them to discover the breadth of opportunity around them. Focusing on inner-city primary schools, I Can Be enables girls to explore jobs they otherwise may not be exposed to, building their curiosity and confidence along the way.

I Can Be established a successful workplace visits programme that has evolved, during the pandemic, into a volunteer initiative that looks to inspire young girls through live “virtual visits”, via Microsoft Teams, as well as through a remote learning programme, I Can [email protected]

Working with I Can Be wasn’t complicated, as part of my role on the DEI council at Merkle, focusing on volunteering, I reached out to them as I liked the work they were doing.

As a result, for I Can [email protected], Arabella Weymouth, executive assistant, shared her passion for helping her colleagues become more organised as well as introducing her best friend Django the cat. Julia Norvidaite explained her role as a principal consultant, helping the girls to understand by likening it to being a teacher. She also shared the perk of travelling across the globe to fulfil her role. Margaret Wagner, president EMEA, spoke about how she ensures her team of 3,500 people across 14 countries are successful on a daily basis! Her cat Gwyneth also made an appearance.

And we were soon hosting a series of visits online with small groups of 7 and 8-year-old girls from primary schools in London. These virtual visits allowed us to share our roles with the girls and to give them a chance to ask us some questions. The virtual visits also involved a task which really helped the girls to get under the skin of what we do here.

I can be@home class

By sharing our skills, knowledge, and enthusiasm, I believe that we’ve really helped to make careers in the customer experience and marketing industry relatable to young girls, and supported broadening the next generation’s horizons.

For example Sophie Irvine, senior associate, programmatic, at Merkle, shared her role in helping our clients to sell their products through digital advertising, and told the girls how varied her day is and the tasks she gets involved with.

And Anne Stagg, Merkle’s UK CEO, is a big supporter of the partnership, describing her involvement as “one of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences I’ve had the pleasure of taking part in. It’s well planned and light touch in preparation but hugely valuable for the girls.”

I hosted my own session with a group of 7 and 8-year-old girls and have to say that it really was a privilege to be able to talk to the girls at an important time in their lives and to share some messages around them being able to do what they want in life. Others at Merkle had similar experiences. Sophie Irvine says of her session: “I did a workshop with 11 girls from a school in central London. I had some brilliant questions ranging from ‘do you make programs in an attic?’, ‘what’s the best ad you’ve ever shown?’ and much more complicated asks like ‘how is it you can show your ads to the right people all round the world?’ I reckon that the wee girl who asked this will have a great career in advertising!”

The value of the partnership was also appreciated by I Can Be. Claire Daley, the charity’s deputy director, described this as “an amazing experience for the girls to meet you, and to have the opportunity to ask you their burning questions about your jobs.” Looking ahead, there’s now the opportunity for women at Merkle to host l Can Be workplace and virtual visits over this school year. And I’d urge other businesses to reach out to I Can Be and do the same because it’s a partnership that’s so rewarding for everyone involved.

Photo credit: @ICanBeOrg

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