By Thanh Catachanas, Head of Collaboration & Acquisition at JCDecaux
2020 was the year of forced behavioural change.
As a result of the pandemic I, like so many others, refrained from hugging my nearest and dearest, stayed at home, home-schooled my children and swapped nights out for nights in with my extended family over a Zoom quiz.
Fast forward to today and these adjustments are now a thing of the past.
However, there is one change in my behaviour that started in 2020 that is here to stay, and that behaviour is me actively supporting and enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion in any way that I possibly can.
As a 40-year-old South East Asian woman up until 2020 I never really talked about race at work. It’s not that I’m not incredibly proud of my mixed Vietnamese and Chinese heritage, it’s just that I never really talked about race in any official capacity. I guess this was a learnt behaviour from growing up in a predominantly white area of Nottingham and not wanting to make a ‘big deal’ out of the colour of my skin or highlight what made me ‘different’.
Those conversations were confined to chats between me and my siblings and my Black, Asian and Multi-ethnic friends.
Never in school and certainly never in the workplace.
But 2020 was the year of the Employee Resource Group and for the first time, I found myself joining the company’s Diversity and Inclusion initiative and talking openly with colleagues about racism, gender equality and learning about different religious and cultural festivals. I took it a step further and joined Media For All and Bloom in Colour and now that I am here, I don’t know what took me so long.
I have been to networking events in the past where there has been an air of snobbery, people are ‘stand-off ish’ and people stay in their own groups but MEFA and Bloom are the complete opposite of this! Everyone wants to talk to each other, and the 2/3-hour events just don’t provide enough time to speak to everyone you want to.
I have never been surrounded by so many people who genuinely want to help one another succeed and this has inspired me to want to do the same, so when fellow MEFA and Bloom member Roshannah Bagley of Something™ reached out to me to see if JCDecaux would be open to creating a platform for diverse creatives from around the world, I knew we had to make this happen.
What I love about OOH is that it is inherently inclusive, there is true equity of access, no subscription or technology required and no keyword blocking and I am proud to say we have come together to champion emerging creatives by turning the public screen into canvases for artwork for everyone to see.
The ‘Something™ Spaces’ exhibition will be displayed on digital Out-of-Home sites UK-wide from 25 July to 30 September showcasing fifty unique creators inspiring work that speaks to local communities in their native languages. ‘Something™ Spaces’ aims to champion diverse creative talent, bridging the gap between creators and opportunities and I have been lucky enough to have been able to support this through JCDecaux UK’s The Community Channel.
This would never have been possible if it weren’t for the amazing people who volunteer their time and resources to create and run groups like MEFA and Bloom. These groups make space for people like me so that we can bring our whole selves to work and inspire us to realise our full potential and pay it forward.
2020 was the year of behavioural change, but as happy as I am to lose the face mask, I’m going to carry on leaning in because somewhere in Delhi and somewhere in China there is a creative whose heart is bursting just as much as mine and Roshannah’s because their artwork is on some of the most iconic OOH towers in the UK!
If you want to find out more about the JCDecaux and Something™ collaboration, please click here.
Something™ will be showcasing select creators via short Spotlight interviews throughout the collaboration on Instagram that can be found here.
And please feel free to install this link for the digital extension for Something™ Spaces too.