Action and accountability on gender equality

When Jane Geraghty became Global CEO at brand transformation company Landor & Fitch, she was focused on driving a business that was truly equal, one that created a sense of inclusion and belonging, and one which helped brands become as diverse as their customers.

Feature image
Jane Geraghty, Global CEO, Landor & Fitch

Achieving gender equality is one of the biggest challenges facing companies today. For many, it continues to be an ambition rather than a reality. Yet at Landor & Fitch, under Jane Geraghty’s leadership, gender equality has been achieved across all levels of the business, with 46 percent of its women in leadership positions and 56 percent of all employees’ being female.

“There’s no silver bullet to getting gender equality right,” says Jane, reflecting on the challenges she faced in reaching this goal. “Throughout my career, it has always been a personal passion point and I’m proud to lead an agency that is equal across the board, at all levels.”

Alongside driving change at Landor & Fitch, Jane also has her sights set on helping and encouraging other companies to embrace gender equality, ensuring authenticity is front of mind: “My role as a brand consultant has given me a unique view of the inner workings of companies across different industries – and puts me in a position to help and support other businesses’ efforts to address inequalities. What we absolutely must put an end to is ‘femwashing,’ where brands want to be seen as ‘doing something,’ as opposed to actually making a real difference.”


From the beginning
While studying Politics at the University of Sussex, Jane became fascinated by political advertising and the role communication plays in influencing behaviour. That interest took her to London, where she began her career in advertising, before progressing into other roles on the other side of the Atlantic – working with the likes of Saatchi & Saatchi, McCann Erickson, Ogilvy New York and Kirshenbaum & Bond.

“At this point of time in the advertising industry, it was not uncommon to experience gender bias and discrimination. In the early days of my career, I remember walking down the halls of a creative department where the almost exclusively male inhabitants shouted their marks out of 10 for how you looked that day.”

Every brand should be thinking about how they can use their platform in support of a more equal society

Jane returned to the UK in 2007 with a desire to try something new. It was around this time that the world of media was undergoing huge change, something she wanted to get involved with first-hand. And that she did, working for ITV as Content Development Director and then Managing Director at Naked Communications, before eventually joining Landor in 2011 as Managing Director of the London studio.

“When I started at Landor, the branding industry was in real need of revitalisation”, Jane notes. “Brand consultancy as an industry had been slow to embrace technology and data within its offer, and my remit was to explore this while injecting agility and certainty into the work we were doing as a business. But one thing which caught my attention pretty much immediately was the wonderfully ambitious women who were already starting to shift directions and perceptions within the business, including the brilliant Emma Beckmann and Charlotte Morrison, who are still with us today.”

Working her way up the business, Jane became President of EMEA in 2013 and then Global CEO of Landor Associates in 2017. She has navigated many changes, including the merger with experience design agency Fitch, which saw the company officially become Landor & Fitch and Jane take the role of Global Group CEO. “I’ve had an incredible team with me on the journey,” she explains.

“We’ve brought motion into our offering with the acquisition of ManvsMachine, experience into the fold with the Fitch merger, and invested heavily in insights and analytics. Today, sustainability and inclusive design are placed at the heart of what we do, allowing us to grow and evolve in line with our mission of creating a positive difference through extraordinary brands, by design.”


Changing culture
Building on her personal success, Jane has shifted her role towards supporting the people around her. “I’m very much focused on my team – mentoring, guiding, and configuring talent to ensure success, both individually and collectively. Part of this is helping foster communities within Landor & Fitch that are dedicated to enhancing diversity and inclusivity.”

This commitment has seen Jane at the forefront of new initiatives that ensure everyone working within the company feels included and empowered. “We all know that creativity flourishes when different perspectives are brought together. As an industry, we had been too reliant on hiring and promoting the familiar,” Jane notes.

In 2020, in partnership with the London team, Jane championed the creation of a grassroots-led global inclusion group, Building to Belong. Their objective being to build and promote an inclusive culture and enable all employees to bring their true selves to the workplace.

There’s no silver bullet to getting gender equality right

As explained by Jane, “Equity focuses on measurable equality and is action orientated. It is a scalable concept that isn’t affected by cultural nuances. Whereas belonging is about creating cultural changes that are relevant to people’s daily experiences. Building to Belong means that diversity and inclusion is the responsibility of everyone at Landor & Fitch, not just a small few.”

“We approach diversity and inclusion through the lens of action and accountability, measuring success by impact and not intent,” says Jane. “We’re gender-equal throughout the business – more women are joining and succeeding than ever before. When women are in the talent pool, they need an environment where they can stay and succeed, and I’m thrilled that we are doing something right in that respect.”

Jane also participates in parent company WPP’s Stella network, which aims to address barriers that could prevent women from progressing their careers to senior levels within the group. “Everyone at Landor & Fitch wants to be a benchmark for diversity and inclusion for not only our WPP network, but the wider industry and beyond”, adds Jane.

Her presence and action in the fight for gender equality didn’t go unnoticed by the business industry either – last year Jane was officially recognised within The Yahoo Finance HERoes Women Role Model List; a showcase of leaders who are championing women in business and driving change for gender diversity in the workplace, where she ranked alongside leading women from Mastercard, Accenture and HSBC.


Branching out
Jane’s efforts aren’t just internal – Landor & Fitch is committed to driving inclusivity and diversity across its brand portfolio. The agency is currently working with some of the world’s leading brands on transforming their inclusivity and gender equality strategies, helping to reshape their purpose.

As Jane puts it: “Brands today have recognised the value of pursuing something beyond pure profits. Purpose drives brand consideration and differentiation, and sustainability and equality have been areas that brands have sought to address.”

One example is Landor & Fitch’s work with Microsoft on the ‘It’s Her” campaign, which ran during Women’s History Month in 2021, and aimed to help the tech giant elevate the role of women in tech. Landor & Fitch took over Microsoft’s internal platform, In Culture, and all of its social media channels to encourage more 18–34 year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds into the tech industry.

Jane’s team has also been creating new concepts and ideas for organisations dedicated to the cause too, including Women Political Leaders. Landor & Fitch developed a new brand strategy for the premier political women’s network, ‘Power Together’, and a new identity which builds on the focus of starting the conversation through a distinctive quotation mark. The team designed a revolutionary tool called ‘The Pulse,’ which uses data from WPL’s Twitter API and a sentiment algorithm to translate worldwide conversations surrounding women in leadership. Using cutting-edge technology and innovative design techniques, the living brand is informed by the data collected.

“The tool aimed to be a catalyst for action: to listen, learn and respond as well as serve as a visual reminder of our progress towards a more inclusive definition of power, which is another area we are very interested in, as designers of the future. What is the visual representation of power? How is it changing? How do we help inform that change?”

Jane presented this topic at the Reykjavík Global Forum –Women Leaders 2019, as well as joining the ‘Pictures of Power’ panel alongside Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO of Plan International, Hiltrud Werner, Member of the Board of Management, Integrity and Legal affairs, at Volkswagen AG, and Uzra Zeya, President and CEO, The Alliance for Peacebuilding (AfP).

But the push for change sits with every role: “Everyone has a part to play in gender equality”, she says. “If you are a brand owner focused on the male half of the population, you aren’t off the hook either. Every brand should be thinking about how they can use their platform in support of a more equal society.”


Challenges ahead
And this is only the start. The pandemic has seen women disproportionately impacted across all industries, as gender equality was put on the back burner in many cases. In fact, PwC’s 2021 Women in Work study found that companies will need to double their gender equality efforts just to recover by 2030. For Jane, this only shows the extent to which the pandemic knocked gender equality back.

But the pandemic has offered silver linings. Brands today recognise purpose as a means to achieving something greater than commercial success, and Landor & Fitch is helping brands to transform while continuing to drive business value. She notes: “Brand is now broader than ever in its impact and implications, informing experience, culture, innovation, recruitment, acquisitions, ESG, and workspace. It now has the attention and interest of the C-suite and is seen as a vital tool in delivering real change and business transformation.”

Landor & Fitch analysis shows that brand represents approximately 33 percent of business value and is a critical growth driver – brand and business strategy are connected, says Jane.

“Brand transformation is an adjustment of differentiation drivers to remain relevant to a variety of audiences, while also attracting new ones. It creates powerful platforms that inspire extraordinary brand expression and experience – platforms that unite people and spark cultural change – which absolutely includes the shift towards a more equitable and sustainable future.”

She also believes that one big challenge that lies ahead is getting the media up to speed with the pace of change: “I’d love to see the lazy, standard questions from ‘do you have imposter syndrome?’ to ‘what is it like to be a female CEO?’ stricken from every interview.”

In order to accelerate the pace of change, she thinks more flexibility is required in workplaces across the globe. “Flexibility has been a major stumbling block, but if there were a silver lining from our pandemic experiences, I’d hope that this has been overcome and that we will all embrace the necessary flexibility to bring more mothers (and fathers!) back into the world of work.”

However, in Jane’s eyes, the most important single step businesses can make is to eliminate the pay gap: “It’s not okay and the gap needs to be addressed emphatically and immediately. Stop the excuses, take the pain and take action.”

With clear obstacles on the path ahead, Jane and her global teams at Landor & Fitch won’t be letting themselves (or their clients) rest on their laurels. There’s an honest recognition that there is still a long way to go, with a need for action. But she is passionate about using the opportunity that design can offer and is determined to lead the way in making real change happen.


Jane Geraghty biography:Jane has been Landor & Fitch’s Global CEO since 2017, working to deliver extraordinary brand transformation by design for clients including Apple, Kellogg’s, LEGO, Procter & Gamble and Singtel.

Jane spent 20 years in the advertising and media world on both sides of the Atlantic; working for Saatchi & Saatchi, McCann-Erickson and Ogilvy, ITV and Naked Communications. Prior to taking on the global role at Landor & Fitch, Jane led sustained growth as President of EMEA and was instrumental to the opening of the Moscow, Istanbul and Los Angeles studios.

Jane has evolved the business to meet the changing needs of clients: embracing brand-led technology and sustainable design solutions, broadening the experience and commerce offer, and growing the insights & analytics group to deliver certainty in brand decision-making. To unlock the full potential of the network, she has pioneered borderless working practices and built ‘centres of excellence’ to successfully scale new services.

Jane is a member of the WPP Executive Committee and is also a member of its Stella network, which aims at addressing gender barriers that prevent women from progressing in their careers. Within Landor & Fitch she is a key driver of building an inclusive culture, championing its grassroots-led global inclusion group Building to Belong, and the Good Squad community, which strives to find innovative solutions to help brands become more sustainable.