Rafe Blandford

Digitas UK

As Chief Product Officer at Digitas UK, Rafe Blandford has been instrumental in driving diversity and inclusion within Digitas and the wider industry, not only shaping but visibly changing people’s awareness and attitudes towards DE&I.

Under the CEO, Dani Bassil’s leadership and alongside the talent director and technology team colleagues, Rafe established the Diversity Champions group in May 2020, a cross-agency group of 20 people providing communication, education and support on DE&I initiatives. For example, in the last year, Rafe and his team launched the ‘Blind CV tool’, having spent much of 2021 researching and developing the concept. It ensures CVs are judged purely on merit, free from biases such as gender, ethnicity, age and education. As interim lead on DEI Champions from January to September 2021, Rafe oversaw the Blind CV tool’s implementation, roll out to the wider Groupe, as well as supporting a number of linked initiatives, including experiments highlighting the impact of bias. At Digitas, CV anonymisation has resulted in a greater number of diverse candidates making it into interview rounds at the agency. The number of women hired within the technology team has also increased under Rafe’s leadership in the UK and India, including two on the agency’s senior leadership team. As an advocate for working women, Rafe is a board member for VivaWomen – Publicis Groupe UK’s business resource group which aims to develop and advance women within the network, with a focus on influencing policy. Policies that have come out over the last year include enhanced family and maternity policies, including paternity and second parent, adoption, surrogacy, menopause and domestic abuse. Rafe and his team also established the ‘Brave Space’ and Culture Workshops – discussion forums for people to share experiences and perspective around DE&I, raise awareness about issues, and encourage them to take action.