HP has become the latest brand to demand that its ad agencies should be staffed with a more diverse group of employees, The Wall Street Journal first reported.
The personal computer and printer maker’s chief marketing officer Antonio Lucio sent a letter to the company’s roster of five advertising and PR agencies on Thursday (read it in full below) asking them to submit a plan within 30 days that outlines how they are going to increase the number of women and people of minorities they have in their top creative and strategy roles.
While HP isn’t demanding a specific quota, Lucio told The Wall Street Journal he expects agencies to have at least 50% female representation. HP’s own 1,000-strong marketing department is 50/50 male/female and about 30% people of colour, the company said.
Lucio said failure to comply with HP’s requirements within the next 12 months could result in removal from HP’s agency roster.
The move comes in the same week US food manufacturer General Mills stipulated that agencies currently competing for its creative account must be staffed with at least 50% women and 20% people of colour within their creative departments.
A survey conducted by The 3% Conference — an event that champions female leadership — found that women make up 46.4% of the ad industry, yet just 11.5% of creative directors within those agencies are female.
The advertising industry has been rocked with a number of several diversity-related scandals over the past year.
Most recently, Saatchi & Saatchi chairman Kevin Roberts was forced to resign after he controversially said the gender debate within the advertising industry was “all over.” There have also been two high-profile discrimination lawsuits filed against top agency executives — JWT’s former CEO Gustavo Martinez and former CEO of RAPP USA. Both deny the allegations.
Below is the full letter from HP’s CMO Antonio Lucio to the company’s roster of agencies:
A Challenge to Agency Leadership
Earlier this month I spoke with you — the CEOs of all of HP’s advertising and marketing agency partners — to ask that we all join in making an important commitment to radically improve the percentage of women and people of colour in leadership roles in our organisations. I’m delighted that without exception you gave your enthusiastic support for this pledge.
How successful we are will define our legacies. So, as you set your goals and make your plans, I ask you to keep these points in mind:
At HP, our vision is to make technology that makes the world a better place for everyone, everywhere. But we recognise that we can’t realise our vision if our business leaders don’t represent everyone, in colour, gender, and geography. We take great pride that HP has the most diverse board of directors in the technology industry, and that we make diversity an explicit business goal. Yet I know we can do even more. I know we must do more.
Including women and people of colour in key roles is not only a values issue, but a significant business imperative. HP thrives on innovation. Study after study confirms that innovation is improved and accelerated by broad perspectives and diversity of thought. Marketers are expected to have deep understanding and insight about their markets, about decision makers, and about customers.
We are more likely to create solutions that amaze our customers if our workforce represents the communities we serve. As a global company, we need to take a broad view of diversity as increased representation will take different forms in different countries. We have decided to start by addressing women.
We make printers and personal computers. Who buys them? Women: 53 per cent for computers, 45 per cent for printers. We are focused on ensuring that our marketing department has the right talent composition to capture our business opportunities. Over the last 12 months we have invested in programs designed to ensure that at least half of our top marketing jobs are held by women. It is important to understand that these were not random moves to increase representation. Instead, they were new opportunities for high-potential people and strategic hires and the quality of our team output has never been better.
To measure our own efforts, we are creating a scorecard that will track multiple levels of diversity of our own global marketing organisation. We are far from perfect, and I know there will be challenges, but I am committed to immediate, global, impact, rigorously measuring our performance and being transparent about the gaps to overcome.
I am asking the same of each of you.
My expectation is that in the next 30 days, you will deliver formal plans — and within 12 months make good on those plans. Thank you for working to significantly increase the percentage of women in top creative and strategic roles on our account. 1
We owe this to ourselves, to each other and to future generations. By making the important and necessary changes today, together we can bend the arc of history in favour of inclusion and opportunity.
Now comes the proof of our commitment. Thank you for joining us.
Antonio Antonio Lucio
Chief Marketing & Communications Officer HP Inc.
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