C-Suite talks HR: Melissa Rose, chief people officer at Jack Morton

by Emily Douglas19 Apr 2018

Jack Morton is a globally recognized branding agency, with an illustrious history spanning almost a century.

The brand recently appointed their first ever chief people officer, in the form of industry veteran Melissa Rose.

We caught up with her to ask how she’s leading from the front and revolutionizing the already expansive people strategy. 

How has the company’s rich history influenced your staff development and growth?

In our nearly 80-year history, we’ve had only three CEOs: Jack Morton himself, his son Bill Morton and now Josh McCall, a lifetime Jack employee. That’s rare for any agency – especially one as large as ours. It has led to a great sense of care for our people. Employees are some of the best brand ambassadors when engaged and inspired. In fact, engaged staff are 44% more productive and inspired staff are 125% more productive, according to a study by Bain & Company.

It’s for this reason that we utilize our expertise in the employee engagement programs we offer clients and apply it to our own business. Our employee owned, and operated D&I initiative called I AM JACK is a great example of this. I AM JACK fosters staff collaboration and development within our community, wider communities with our Jack B Good and mentoring programs, and work that brings diversity and inclusion initiatives to life (for example the content and social marketing work we have done for the Ad Council’s Love Has No Labels campaign).

Also, annually we present the Bill Morton Award to key employees that exhibit our values inside and out. The evidence speaks for itself: in 2017, we were named one of the best places to work by multiple trade publications.

How would you describe Jack Morton’s Brand Values?

We have three simple but important values at the centre of the Jack brand: passion, agility and respect. As someone new to the agency, it’s these values that not only attracted me the company but it was one of the first things I noticed – how Jack people actually live these. They aren’t just our values either, they are connected to our clients’ values. Shared values make for great relationships.

Respect is our anchor and it’s non-negotiable at Jack. It’s the foundation because our people need to feel valued and secure. Our people have been demonstrating respect for each other for decades, long before businesses were under the scrutiny that they are today. We think about it in terms of how we respect one another as colleagues and how we relate to our clients and their business. Our respectful environment fosters passion for our work which you can feel the moment you step into one of our offices. Passion is critical because our business is creative and competitive. Clients want people who love what they do working on their business. In our fast paced -industry, we have to approach all of our work with agility. Being nimble is vital to our success.

What can employers do to encourage more women in leadership roles?

We tell our clients that the proof is in the promise – it’s not just what you say but what you do. This applies to all aspects of a business including the creation of an environment which encourages more women in leadership. Here’s the proof that we’re hard at work on what is an industry-wide focus:

  1. We start with great mentorship programs. It’s the key to fostering an environment where women are encouraged to grow into leadership roles.

  2. At Jack, we don’t shy away from discussions about gender. We have honest conversations about uncomfortable topics in order to push our thinking beyond our own experiences and background. As an organization, we partner with the 3% Movement, which champions female leadership and talent.

  3. Businesses need to identify star employees, especially women, early and expend resources and create opportunities to keep them excited about growing into positions of leadership. HR, and therefore diversity and inclusion, must also be part of the business agenda. At Jack, it’s a component of the Executive Team.

Want to know the leadership hack taking global Boardrooms by storm? The secret to honest communication is revealed here.