Inclusion and diversity in action: Why we’re changing the structure of our global boards

By Sean Reardon, US CEO and Global COO

When discussing inclusion and diversity at MiQ, I think back to when I was interviewing to join the company in the fall of 2018. During the final stages of that process, I was struck that the group of people interviewing me was very white and almost exclusively male. Honestly, it looked like a 90s boy band reunion – and a British boy band at that. 

As a white man myself, I admittedly didn’t want to talk my way out of the job. I said as much during my interview process, but I did challenge Gurman on the situation, and asked, ‘is there a plan here?’  His response was honest, passionate and detailed, taking accountability for the less than stellar representation at the time (with the exception of our CMO, our global board members were all male and outside of our two co-founders, all white.)  He committed to action, not simply words. He had a plan to advance inclusion and diversity efforts across the organization, and like so many things I’ve come to see in the time since, when MiQ puts its focus and energy towards something, actions happen. The fact the leader and co-founder of the business was so in tune with the issue gave me tremendous confidence that MiQ was the kind of workplace I wanted to be a part of…and so my personal journey at MiQ began. What was clear then, and what’s still clear now, is that we’re not committed to being more inclusive and diverse as a company simply because it’s “what you should do” according to the broader cultural zeitgeist. It’s because we fundamentally believe in our hearts and minds that it is the right thing for us to do as a business and as people. 

Having a diverse range of voices comfortable representing their point of view is how we have better discussions. That doesn’t mean all of our conversations are comfortable – to be completely candid, we challenge one another all the time. But it’s how we have more productive disagreements, it’s how we maintain a broader, more level perspective, and it’s how we make better decisions as a company. 

Recognizing this reality and doing something about it are two different things; however. Inclusion and diversity doesn’t just happen, particularly in a global business like ours that’s growing really quickly. Inertia pulls against you and I&D is something we have to work at daily to advance, understanding where there is opportunity, where efforts are simply not good enough, taking account and then doing something about it. 

Ashwini is one of the most acclaimed innovators in our industry. Named as one of the world’s most powerful women in mobile advertising by Business Insider, she is a leader and champion of inclusion and diversity and has an impressive track record of building diverse and talented teams on a global scale. In her advisory role for MiQ, Ashwini will bring crucial global insights, a deep knowledge of the agency and senior marketer landscape, and give us high-level guidance on the media ecosystem and its operational proficiency.    

Reimagining our global board Since the fall of 2018, MiQ has done a lot to push inclusion and diversity forward. We’ve hired dedicated roles in leadership and a supporting team of talents and consultants to guide our vision. We’ve enhanced our hiring practices, invested in programs to develop more diverse talents from within, built spaces for greater reflection and education, formalized our processes to create equitable pay structures and this is just to name a few things. (You can take a deep dive into these efforts and their output in our inaugural Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Accountability report) But, at a global board level, we had done too little. And this was a shame because I felt it undermined the credibility of our commitment to inclusion and diversity with our teams. From my perspective, if your leaders don’t represent who you are and who you want to be as a company, then all else feels a bit secondary and superficial. I also felt it was a shame because we had hired and developed so many capable senior talents over the past three years. We were in a different position than when I joined the company and this was no accident. MiQ now had an incredible range of capable leaders in the business representing a variety of ages, geographies, genders and backgrounds – they just weren’t being acknowledged with roles at the global board level.  

In hindsight, the decisions seem obvious. We were presented with a chance to reimagine our global board construct, to create a more effective global leadership while establishing a composition of board members that was far more representative of our people and all our dimensions. And so that’s exactly what we did.

Katherine represents the newest and most senior product voice across our business, with over twenty years experience creating and evolving digital platforms and business strategy.  Most company challenges can be viewed through a product lens and Katherine brings to MiQ her enormous experience in solving big and impactful problems for companies such as GroupM, PubMatic, Adobe, Viacom, DoubleClick and 24/7 Real Media where she has held past leadership positions.

How does our new Global Board structure look in practice? Our new global board structure exists in three parts:

1) A global statutory board who provides corporate governance, guidance and formal sign off on long-term strategy and investments. 

2) A global executive board that is responsible for setting our overarching mission, multi-year vision, strategic objectives, and values of the company. 

3) A global operational board which manages financial performance while aligning MiQ’s product roadmap, marketing narrative, commercial agenda and initiatives linked to company culture, inclusion, employee growth and wellbeing.

For me personally, the proof of our commitment to inclusion and diversity is in the composition of these teams. We’ve recently added the incomparable Ashwini Karandakir to our stat board where she joins our co-founders Gurman and Lee on a team that shapes MiQ’s overarching direction. The executive board now consists of 11 members, five of whom represent women and BIPOC backgrounds. The operational board now consists of 19 people, twelve of whom represent women and BIPOC backgrounds. Over 70% of our new global board members are women or BIPOC and every region of our business is now represented and has a voice at the highest level of the company. As with so many things at MiQ, perfection was never part of the plan. We were arguably too slow to make changes to our board structure. We have dimensions beyond gender and race to consider as we evolve the representation of our leadership in the time ahead. But we’re certainly no longer the boy band I saw when joining the company in 2018. When it comes to inclusion and diversity, we have a vision and an increasing propensity towards action at MiQ – and I’m extremely proud of this next step we’ve taken on the path ahead.