NYC Controller Liu Demands Release Of POG Employment Data

The New York City Controller John Liu has renewed his effort to get Omnicom and Publicis Groupe to disclose the ethnic and gender makeup of their respective workforces.

Liu has written letters to both companies in the past demanding that they reveal such data in the interests of measuring progress or the lack of it in making their workforces more diverse. Neither company has responded, according to the controller.

In the case of Omnicom, Liu has offered proposals at the holding company’s last two annual meetings requiring the release of data that the firm files with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that provides a comprehensive breakdown of the company’s workforce by race and gender across all employment categories.

The proposals -- which Omnicom urged shareholders to vote against -- were defeated, although about one-third of voted shares were in favor of the 2012 proposal. Liu is investment advisor to the New York City Pension Funds, which own a combined $61 million in Omnicom and Publicis shares.



Now Liu has written the companies again demanding that they disclose employment data before shareholders vote on their proposed merger.

“It has been two years since, in separate letters to each of you, I called on Omnicom and Publicis to disclose the composition of their employees by race and gender across major job categories,” Liu wrote in a follow-up letter addressed to Omnicom CEO John Wren and Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Levy that was dated Nov. 15. Liu disclosed the letter on Thursday.

Liu said the merger would create “the least transparent of the top [advertising] firms with respect to management’s performance in hiring and promoting minorities. And he said that the companies’ “recalcitrance…undermines investor confidence in your commitments to diversity and non-discrimination at a critical moment.”

Liu noted that both WPP and Interpublic now disclose some annual data on the ethnic makeup of their employees, “leaving Omnicom and Publicis as the only major global advertising firms that provide no such disclosure.”

Reps at Omnicom and Publicis did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the latest Liu letter. Omnicom has argued in the past that the EEOC data is misleading and could be used to portray the company in an unfair light. Both companies have also stated that they take diversity seriously and have taken steps to promote it at their firms. 

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