Ruebik ignites the conversation about successful leadership and D&I initiatives with Kevin Fegans, an expert in communications and brand strategy and a staunch champion of diversity and inclusion initiatives and ideas.
Kevin is the founder and president of global brand strategy, marketing and communications consultancy The Communications Bureau, and has previously held VP and Director of PR positions at global brands such as ASOS and Forever21. Kevin is an expert in multiple disciplines including PR, sustainability, social media and cultural, influencer and performance marketing, and specialises in the development and implementation of innovative, methodical, and ROI-driven communications strategies and campaigns.
Kevin champions diversity and inclusion because he knows first-hand what it feels like to be the only person of colour at the table or in an organisation. He talks about those uncomfortable moments and unintentional racist comments extensively in an op-ed he wrote for The Business of Fashion around the time when global race relations were in crisis and at the peak of the Black Lives Matter movement.
- Is there something unique about the way in which you were brought up that has impacted your leadership style?
It’s nice to be important, but more important to be nice. Treat people with respect and help others when you can. These values were instilled in me from an early age and are integral to my approach to managing teams, partnering cross-functionally within a business, and how I treat everyone in the business from the receptionist to the CEO.
“It’s nice to be important, but more important to be nice.”
- What three leadership qualities would you deem as the most important ones for success?
Listening – I think people often forget that the customer knows best and the answers to your challenges are right in front of you.
Learning – Don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes and also learn from your team even if they are junior to you.
Innovation – Always a step ahead is my motto. Immerse yourself in what’s next as you want to always inspire the customer.
“Don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes.”
- What is the best piece of advice you received that helped shape your career?
I still think back to my political internships in Washington, DC, and being told to always dot ‘i’s and cross ‘t’s – twice, preferably, as mistakes are not welcomed and rarely forgotten.
“Dot your ‘i’s and cross your ‘t’s; mistakes are not welcomed and rarely forgotten.”
- Following the global events of last year, can you name an outstanding initiative or organisation as moving the dial forward in D&I conversation?
I think the conversation around racial inequalities was long overdue and made businesses and brands take a cultural audit of their organisations. Does our board room and C-Suite look like our customer base? Brands like Target who have committed over 2 million dollars to support black-owned businesses are taking the right approach. The industry needs to overcorrect to recalibrate equity.
“The industry needs to overcorrect to recalibrate equity.”
- What is your perception of the recruitment industry and the commitment to drive inclusive hiring?
I think brands have to be careful in their approach to hiring when it comes to diversity. It’s what I have coined as the disingenuous display of diversity and inclusion. Diversity should be a consideration, but hiring for optics is a disservice to the candidate, organisation, and culture. ‘I want to hire a female of color’ and ‘I have to’ are two different things.
“Hiring for optics is a disservice to the candidate, organisation, and culture.”
- As a role model in your field, what career advice would you share with somebody who aspires to follow in your footsteps?
Ego is the ugliest drug to bring into a business and collaboration is key. Encourage your team members through entrepreneurial-inspired projects within the business and never micro manage. It motivates no one.
“Collaboration is key.”
We’d like to thank Kevin for participating in our blog series, and for his contributions to the diversity and inclusion space. We wish Kevin and all of our community a very prosperous 2022 ahead!
Ruebik are on hand to help your organisation assess and improve your policies and procedures in order to cultivate a sustainable, inclusive culture. If you’d like to have a no-strings-attached chat about how we might be able to help your company or organisation, get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org!