Clarks has linked up with The Elephant Room for its upcoming LGBT+ mentorship programme.
The agency first established its One Month Mentors project last year, with each cohort of participants directed by different themes, including Black History Month and International Women’s Day.
Tara McRae, chief marketing officer at Clarks, who will be a mentor, said the latest programme resonated with her on both a personal and professional level.
She said: “Community has been at the heart of our brand for more than 195 years. We wanted to celebrate Pride month with our consumers but we wanted to do it in a way that we are giving back to the community.
“I myself belong to the LGBT+ community and would have loved to have done something like this as I entered the industry.”
Shannie Mears, co-founder and head of talent at The Elephant Room, has always seen the value in mentorship and “reverse-mentoring”. It was at Iris that Mears met her mentor Dan Saxby, the former chief executive, whom she went on to establish The Elephant Room.
After the impact of the pandemic and the murder of George Floyd, Mears felt her agency could be doing more to lift up under-represented and under-resourced groups.
She told Campaign: “We developed a mentorship programme built on our experiences of building a business relationship and starting an agency. It felt like something that would be great for communities that are under-represented and, more often than not, under-resourced.
“Some groups don’t always have access to networks or the industry professionals that they would like, or they may not know these opportunities exist. One Month Mentors is an intensive programme where you get paired with a senior or C-suite leader within the industry, based on the application that you put forward. Both mentors and mentees apply and then they get paired. It’s about going through that programme, which includes sessions with speakers from within the industry, to understand what personal and professional development looks like.”
Each pairing is expected to dedicate an hour a week to a mentorship session, with the learnings benefiting both parties. The upcoming Pride cohort will be for people who identify with the LGBT+ community, and all mentors will be LGBT+ industry leaders.
McRae said: “We hope to learn more about how we can foster young creative careers within the footwear industry. We are on a journey as a brand in addressing diversity and inclusion internally and externally. We hope that we learn more about how we can evolve with every project, programme, connection and conversation.”
Clarks will be hosting a week called Inside Clarks, offering insights on product design and social media marketing. As well as being a mentor, McRae will also be deliver a keynote speech.
The programme also includes a shoot featuring the mentors and mentees for Brand Advance-owned magazine Chapter Z, which will be championing Pride. Brand Advance is also a partner of the programme.
Mears added: “For us as an agency, it’s important that the type of opportunities and accessibility that we’re offering to these groups is always present. So whether they are black people, women, those who identify as LGBT+, disabled people, we always want to make sure that they’re getting that same high level of intense learning. And this programme is perfect for that.
“It gives them the ability to connect with people that are like them and be reminded of their value. They deserve the resources, the knowledge and the expertise, regardless of where they come from, their background or their sexual orientation. They should still get the best of the best.”