Skip to main content

Rufus RESPECT Week 2021: Talk the talk. Walk the walk.

As Pride month is in full swing, educating and celebrating people across the globe, Rufus’ Head of People and Culture, Emily-Faye, reflects on the key message from this year’s Rufus RESPECT Week.

Rufus RESPECT Week: Talk the talk. Walk the walk.


By Emily-Faye Duncan

Being hungry for knowledge, down to earth, and brave enough to challenge and change are at our core as an agency. As individuals (Rufians), we honour these values both in our work and at our work.

We’re challenging ourselves as an agency, while consistently and proactively working towards being more inclusive. This isn’t a tick box exercise; it comes from a genuine place of wanting to make sure that anyone who connects with Rufus feels accepted and is able to have a voice – but we recognise we have more progress to make.

Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes

The admonition to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes is a reminder to proactively practice empathy. Respect is at the core of this. When we talk about respect and work, we talk about inclusion – to consider people who think differently, create differently and experience differently.

‘At work’ this involves creating a culture where people can truly bring their whole selves to work – helping them to feel more engaged, to think bolder, to find common ground, and to work more effectively together. ‘In our work’ this involves designing inclusively, catering for permanent and temporary situations to deliver a comprehensively designed product or service.

Driving long-term change

In the same way PRIDE month shouldn’t be the only time in the year to provide a celebration of LGBT+ life and challenge prejudice, Rufus RESPECT Week is not a one week only focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. We’re continually making positive changes. Most recently, this has included introducing ‘Read & Write’ software to help colleagues who are neurodiverse, taking steps to make our recruitment processes fair and consistent (such as blind CVs and diversity monitoring), reigniting our RAW internship programme with a focus on providing opportunities for underrepresented groups, and supporting initiatives like Open_, Creative Careers, and Brixton Finishing School. Plus, as we reimagine how we use our physical office in a world of hybrid working, inclusive design is high on the agenda – watch this space!

By walking a mile in another’s shoes, we’re reminded to practice empathy and continue to create an inclusive culture for our colleagues, our partners, our clients and their customers.

A snapshot of Rufus RESPECT Week:

Reimagining the airport experience: Rufus UX Architect and Design Collective member, Claudia, ran a workshop that challenged us to explore how inclusive design could improve the airport experience for people with low visibility. It was a chance for us as a whole agency to collaborate and design a more empathetic experience. You can read more about this here. 

Talk the talk and walk the walk: A study published in the Journal of Research in Personality investigated people’s precision in judging characteristics of an unknown person, based solely on the shoes they wear most often. This inspired a week-long Instagram and internal comms campaign that challenged bias across class, disability, race, religion, and age.

Creative Equals full-agency workshop: Creative Equals is an award-winning global consultancy that helps businesses put inclusivity at the heart of growth. As part of our ongoing partnership, the Creative Equals team facilitated an interactive workshop where we co-created a shared expectation of what best practice culture looks like to help us embed our own Rufus inclusive behaviours. The session inspired us to kick-start our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Champions, which now includes people from across the agency at all levels who are driving initiatives that push us closer to our inclusive ambition.

Time out for TED: We’re BIG fans of TED Talks at Rufus, with talks across topics shared regularly on Slack. During Rufus RESPECT Week, we took time out every day to listen to inspiring and related talks from experts including: Christine Porath, Leah Georges, Melina Epler, Heather C. McGhee, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Carl Honoré, Elise Roy, Sinéad Burke, Melody Hobson. 

Gendered Intelligence ‘Top Tips’: Gendered Intelligence are a trans-led charity that exists to increase understandings of gender diversity and improve trans people’s quality of life. They engage with people from all walks of life to be ‘intelligent’ about gender. Rufians joined their workshop (run in partnership with Alliance of Independent Agencies) to learn more about gender and identity, and how we can be allies in our personal lives and at work.

Emily-Faye has over 13 years of experience working in Human Resources in the creative industry. She's a member of the Alliance of Independent Agencies DEI group and part of the BIMA HR peer network group. She created the RAW initiative for Rufus Leonard to make internships accessible to anyone from any background.

People-Card -Emily-illustration- 480x320
Emily-Faye DuncanHead of People and Culture

Read the latest inspo from our team



If you’ve got the aspiration to deliver something meaningful to your customers, we’ve got the strategic thinkers and creative doers to make it happen. For a little bit more on how we can help, complete the form on the right and we’ll get in touch.