Landor designs an inclusive future with pioneering internships

Landor, a global brand transformation powerhouse, is weaving a more diverse future, thread by thread. It’s weapon of choice? Innovative internship programmes that break down barriers and cultivate a kaleidoscope of talent. Recognising the magic of fresh perspectives, Landor’s initiatives are designed to attract and nurture individuals from all walks of life, enriching both the company and the branding industry as a whole.

“Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) can be woven into every stage of an employee’s journey,” says Landor India & Singapore’s people director and global people lead for DEI, Nivedita Sarbadhikari with HRKatha. “Internships are a goldmine, and by nurturing them, we can bridge the gap to a more vibrant workforce.”

Landor, steeped in the world of design and branding, requires specialised talent. But they don’t simply raid design schools. Instead, they run the ‘Global Next Gen Brand Transformers Programme’ – an open call to anyone with a spark, advertised on social media platforms.

“We tell our hiring managers to level the playing field. The interview stage is about raw talent, not pedigree.”

Nivedita Sarbadhikari

people director, Landor India & Singapore

 

This programme is a global learning experience, challenging applicants with a live client brief. Those who crack the code earn a coveted internship opportunity. Spanning continents (APAC, EEMA, and the Americas), the programme casts a wide net, attracting a diverse pool, including those from underrepresented groups.

“We tell our hiring managers to level the playing field,” explains Sarbadhikari. “The interview stage is about raw talent, not pedigree.”

The programme’s signature feature? Removing barriers to entry. This free, virtual programme offers nine interactive sessions led by both seasoned leaders and rising stars, providing a tapestry of insights into the world of brand development. Open to anyone with a global internet connection, it equips aspiring branding and design professionals with essential skills and allows them to showcase their learnings through a real-world project. Standout participants are even offered paid internships across the globe.

The programme’s success is undeniable. In 2023, over 1,000 individuals participated, with a remarkable 71 per cent coming from diverse ethnicities. This is Landor’s commitment to inclusivity in action, attracting a broader range of talent. In fact, it’s through this programme that Landor India discovered a shining star from the LGBTQ+ community, who interned at their Gurugram studio.

Buoyed by the success of the Global Next Gen programme, Landor India launched a homegrown initiative – the bi-annual ‘Springboard Internship Programme’. This programme provides a transformative six-month experience for aspiring professionals across all departments. It actively seeks applicants from all corners of India, promoting inclusivity by welcoming individuals regardless of gender, religion, disability, or even location (Tier 2 & 3 cities are actively encouraged to apply).

Springboard fosters continuous learning through a dedicated ‘learning series’ where internal brand experts conduct immersive workshops every month. Interns culminate their journey by presenting their branding knowledge and key takeaways to a panel of established professionals who provide valuable feedback. Top performers have the opportunity to join Landor India in full-time or consultant roles. In 2023, Landor India successfully transitioned 14 per cent of its 51 interns into permanent positions, with a staggering 72 per cent being women.

Landor’s commitment to inclusivity extends beyond its own walls. Partnering with its parent network, WPP, they recently launched the ‘WPP Equal internship programme’. This programme specifically targets underrepresented communities, including LGBTQIA+, individuals with disabilities, neurodiverse individuals, and women re-entering the workforce.

By creating inclusive internship opportunities, Landor fosters a workplace where everyone feels valued and empowered. This not only enriches the company culture but also taps into a wellspring of highly motivated and diverse talent. Landor’s approach demonstrates the transformative power of inclusive internships, with the potential to reshape both organisational culture and the branding industry as a whole.

“Inclusive internships, done right, are game changers, not just for our company culture, but for the entire industry,” says Sarbadhikari. Research by Cornell University backs this up, revealing that employers offering internships for people with disabilities are 5.7 times more likely to hire them permanently.

However, challenges remain. While paid internships for LGBTQIA+ individuals are on the rise, translating these opportunities into permanent jobs is crucial. Companies need to invest in upskilling, policy changes promoting inclusivity (think employee sensitisation, respectful language, and safe spaces), and ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) to create a truly welcoming environment.

Sarbadhikari acknowledges the need for progress in India, where social conservatism can hinder openness. Landor conducts demographic surveys, but individuals are often hesitant to disclose their sexual orientation, making it difficult to capture the true diversity of the applicant pool.

“We’ve always believed that inclusive hiring practices, including internships, foster diversity of thought and create a more representative organisation, leading to greater business success,” concludes Sarbadhikari. “That’s why inclusive internships have been a cornerstone of our approach from the very beginning.”

Landor’s story is a blueprint for a more vibrant future. By embracing inclusivity at every stage, they’re not just building a stronger company, they’re paving the way for a more diverse and innovative branding landscape. This commitment to inclusivity is a win-win for Landor, the branding industry, and society as a whole.

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