HP is demanding that the ad shops on its agency roster, including BBDO, gyro and Fred & Farid, improve diversity within their senior creative ranks.
The tech company has had discussions with its agencies on the topic and last week sent a formal letter to them — first reported by The Wall Street Journal — asking for formal plans to achieve that goal within 12 months. The plans are due Oct. 1.
The letter was sent by Antonio Lucio, the chief marketing officer of HP Inc., who noted HP’s own ambitious diversity plans. “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.”
Lucio noted that diversity is critical for the company from a business standpoint — more than half of its personal computers are purchased by women and 45% of its printers are bought by women.
The agencies appear to support HP’s mandate. “I’m delighted that without exception you gave your enthusiastic support for this pledge,” Lucio stated in his letter, referring to earlier talks on the subject.
The HP development followed word that General Mills is demanding that agencies vying for its creative account, now in review, have creative departments comprising 50% women and 20% minorities. That news was first reported by Advertising Age.
Adland has struggled with is diversity problem for years, but this year, a string of incidents have occurred at agencies that suggest that efforts by the industry to address the situation have to some degree failed.
In March, the global CEO of WPP’s J. Walter Thompson, Gustavo Martinez was sued by a top aid for sex harassment and retaliation. The suit forced his resignation from JWT — although WPP recently acknowledged he continues to do some project work for the holding company — and is still winding its way through the courts.
Last month, Kevin Roberts, executive chairman at Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi, was forced to resign after dismissing gender diversity as a non-issue in the advertising industry during an interview.
“Including women and people of color in key roles is not only a values issue, but a significant business imperative,” Lucio wrote in his letter to roster shops. “We are more likely to create solutions that amaze our customers if our workforce represents the communities we serve.”