How to be an ethical and effective global adtech business in 2023

How to be an ethical and effective global adtech business in 2023

When it comes to HR, there is no region or team small enough to warrant a blanket approach.


Advertising technology businesses are now operating in a never-before-seen working paradigm. With 78% of the global workforce believing hybrid and remote work empowers them to fully take care of their wellbeing, employers are looking to answer the call for flexibility. As a result, organisations have been pushed to manage decentralised teams while guaranteeing everyone has the resources and support they need.

But what of international adtech companies? Not only do they have decentralised teams, but also a multitude of different cultures and time zones. Developing culturally sensitive feedback processes and impactful diversity initiatives, alongside ensuring that time differences do not magnify management challenges, becomes even more critical for global companies. Adtech businesses must carefully address these additional considerations if they want to thrive.

Strong communication is more than talking the talk

Making certain that managers and their line reports understand each other across regions goes beyond speaking the same language. Cultural nuances influence how messages such as feedback should be communicated, which is a particularly important concern if managers are based in a different country to the team members receiving the feedback.

In Germany, for example, enhancing the quality of individual and team performance is typically front of mind, as well as refining current processes. Consequently, teams value constructive advice to continually drive incremental improvements. US teams, in comparison, usually place a stronger emphasis on celebrating ongoing successes and have a preference for motivational feedback to boost productivity. Meanwhile in Singapore, staff prioritise receiving real-time feedback, which enables them to address issues in the moment and immediately act on new opportunities.

With a clear feedback process being critical for performance and morale, managers of international teams will benefit from tailored training programmes. HR professionals with global experience and a background in communications are highly valuable for mentoring these team leaders. Due to the personal nature of feedback, training should also be carried out on a case-by-case basis, as best practices will look different depending on working and communications styles.

DE&I: moving in the right direction

Diversity, equity & inclusion (DE&I) is a work in progress across industries, particularly in the advertising sector where leading trade bodies have been ramping up their efforts to support diverse talent.

Diversity can be viewed differently depending on local contexts. In Europe, diversity often brings to mind inclusivity around gender and sexual orientation, while in the US, there is a greater focus on inclusion regarding ethnicity and race. This affects how DE&I initiatives are built and communicated, as adtech businesses should ensure they are meeting the specific needs of their teams.

All countries have guidance and regulations around DE&I, so no matter where businesses operate, it will be a priority for HR departments. A key challenge in the adtech space is opening up more routes into the industry to expand the talent pool. Rolling out more training programmes is vital for ensuring the next generation of the workforce is both aware of careers in adtech and owns the skills to succeed in them.

Furthermore, training initiatives for career changers will empower professionals from different backgrounds and with experience from other industries to enter and enrich the adtech sector. Collective action is needed to drive these programmes and what’s more, their goal should be to benefit the wider industry, as opposed to individual companies.

Alongside education and training, adjusting recruitment practices to create more opportunities for diverse talent, including individuals from socio-economic, educational, and racial backgrounds that are underrepresented in the adtech space, is a must.

An important step towards this is to make sure our job ads are seen by the right talent. Through researching which channels these job seekers use to search for new career opportunities, hiring managers can then select the best forums for reaching professionals from diverse backgrounds.

Freedom and flexibility on a global scale

To effectively support their staff, HR leaders at global adtech companies need to be well-versed on employment regulations, not only in different countries, but in some cases, different regions as well. For instance in Germany, if an employee plans to move to another region from where the business’s head office is based, this can affect the public holidays they are entitled to.

HR leaders must also be prepared to discuss how this impacts employee benefits, such as reimbursing more distant remote workers when they do travel into the office and how to ensure more local employees receive comparable benefits.

Even in countries where the team on the ground is smaller, being sensitive to these issues can make a huge impact on retaining the necessary skills, talent, and industry knowledge.

Additionally, building trust between managers and staff is even more crucial when employees work in different regions and time zones. The inability to monitor daily progress around certain objectives, such as lead generation, can place pressure on team leaders and cause micromanaging issues.

To mitigate this risk, businesses can focus on upskilling managers and encouraging an open-minded approach to people management. Best practice around this will continually change with the evolving workplace, making progressive people management the backbone of flexibility for multinational and dispersed teams.

From differing regulations to unique cultural considerations, there are many details for adtech businesses to bear in mind wherever they plan to establish, nurture, or expand a team. Taking the time to understand these differences will enable companies to retain talent, boost productivity, and look after their staff. When it comes to HR, there is no region or team small enough to warrant a blanket approach.

Gosia Adamczyk is director of HR at Verve Group.

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