Brian Berg on Philanthropical Match Making and How Publicis Media's Culture Supports Social Good

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Philanthropy is a vital conduit for corporations to engage in social causes. Publicis Media has built a culture that strongly encourages and supports its employees' involvement with nonprofits. Brian Berg, chief talent officer, Publicis Media Practices, is a notable example of this.

In a conversation with MediaVillage, Berg discusses his personal and professional relationship with Be The Match, a nonprofit dedicated to matching cancer patients with potential life-saving donors. He shares incredibly poignant insights regarding why the Publicis Media culture makes this partnership such a rewarding match.

Philip McKenzie: What was your motivation for getting personally involved with Be The Match?

Brian Berg: My involvement with Be The Match began because my son Colin was diagnosed with leukemia in October 2015. My family and I were going through a very challenging time. It was incredibly grueling and during this experience, Publicis Media showed me love and support on both a personal and professional level.

In early 2017, Adrian Sayliss, [global CFO of Publicis Media and CFO of Publicis Groupe North America], introduced me to Be The Match, as he also had a family member who was battling cancer. Fortunately, they went through a successful transplant through a Be The Match donor. So, my education began at that moment. I attended the organization's annual gala when Publicis Media was a sponsor for the first time. Over the last three years, the relationship has solidified to the point where it is now.

McKenzie: What do you think makes Publicis Media's culture so supportive at such a difficult personal and professional time?

Berg: The entire Publicis Media organization rallied around my family and me. In one instance, many employees wore orange, which is the color of the leukemia support ribbon. They sent videos and pictures, which were shared with my family and on social media. It really demonstrated that they cared about what we were going through.

It was a moving experience and very much in line with the cultural history of philanthropy within Publicis Media. We encourage our employees to get involved in nonprofits and other causes that are dear to them and, in turn, have created an environment where there is real institutional support for those endeavors.

McKenzie: One of the goals of Be The Match is to increase the ethnic diversity of the donor pool; how does that goal align with Publicis Media and its perspective on diversity?

Berg: At Publicis Media, we have business resource groups led by employees. They are similar to affinity groups, in that they bring together people of similar backgrounds and interests, along with allies to ideate, activate, and create programming. It builds a fantastic culture of engagement and inclusion.

As it pertains to Be The Match, we were able to partner with specific business resource groups that support people of color. One of them is the Men of Color Alliance, or MOCA, and the other is Viva Women of Color. We solicited their membership, intending to get them engaged with the registry to increase the chances that diverse patients would find a donor match. Both business resource groups were able to motivate their members to show up and participate, which could be incredibly valuable if we identify future matches through this outreach.

McKenzie: It seems like, beyond financial resources, Publicis Media has made a real commitment to talent and intellectual resources on behalf of BTM.

Berg: Yes. While we have been a consistent sponsor of Be The Match's annual gala, our commitment extends beyond financial resources. Publicis Media has made active engagement with philanthropy to be more than just our writing of checks. Our culture makes it a point to support employees who want to give back to a wide variety of organizations.

We also have a history of working with nonprofits from a pro bono perspective. This type of specific mission-based support is essential to our philanthropic efforts. Our leadership has made [a] great effort to ensure that Publicis Media operates in a manner where this is the form and function of our company DNA. These types of activities resonate with our employees and, in turn, our culture helps us to acquire and retain talent. It is a win-win.

McKenzie: Looking to the near future, 2020 is almost upon us. Where do you see your relationship with Be The Match going?

Berg: Of course, we will continue to be sponsors for the Be The Match annual gala. We will also build on our 2019 momentum and encourage more registry events to identify potential donors across the United States. I think this is a watershed moment in our relationship that allows us to get more employees involved and raise the awareness that we can be a part of saving lives through our engagement.

We are exploring taking this to a global level. We have more than 80,000 employees who represent an opportunity to do incredibly scalable work on this issue, given our culture. Our relationship with Be The Match can only continue to grow and be a vital part of the Publicis Media community.

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