Commentary

P&G Launching Diversity And Inclusion Efforts Supporting #SeeHer

Pointing to a Association of National Advertisers #SeeHer study that found that women and girls are inaccurately or negatively portrayed in 29% of ads and media programs and acknowledging that women are substantially underrepresented in key positions in advertising and marketing, Procter & Gamble yesterday announced a number of initiatives it expects will lead “to more accurate and positive portrayals of women.” 

The numbers may not say it all, but they present a stark snapshot of the problem.

“Only 32% of chief marketing officers, 33% of chief creative officers and a mere 10% of commercial directors are women. These issues persist despite evidence that gender-equal ads perform 10% higher in trust and 26% higher in sales growth,” P&G says in a news release, datelined Cannes, detailing its new actions, commitments and partnerships.  

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Among them: “The world’s biggest advertiser wants women directors for at least half of its product commercials by 2023. … It’s a direct challenge to the male-dominated agency world, from a client that spent more than $7 billion on advertising last year,” writes Bloomberg’s Jeff Green. 

“Equality drives growth,” says Marc Pritchard, the company’s chief brand officer. “If we just achieve equality in economic empowerment between women and men, it could add $28 trillion to the world economy. That’s a lot of purchasing power.”

The company is also taking the Free the Bid pledge founded by Alma Har’el. It “aims to ensure that at least one woman is among the finalists to direct every commercial,” Nathaniel Meyersohn writes for CNNMoney.

In addition, P&G is “teaming with Queen Latifah and Katie Couric, who are both active in supporting female directors in television and movies through their media and entertainment companies. P&G will sponsor a new video project that Couric is leading,” Meyersohn continues.

“Does a brand-name journalist need a brand-name platform to succeed?” asks Keach Hagey in an extended piece about the latter project for the Wall Street Journal. “The inaugural project of the expanded Katie Couric Media will be a short-form online video series for digital-media outfit theSkimm … titled ‘Getting There,’ [that] will feature profiles of accomplished women.

“Ms. Couric, formerly the ‘CBS Evening News’ anchor, was once a poster child for mass-market broadcast TV. Now, with TV suffering from falling ratings and viewership fragmentation, brands are looking for new paths to reach audiences, and Ms. Couric’s latest project is emblematic of the models that are emerging,” Meyersohn observes.

P&G also revealed that it will work with “Queen Latifah’s Queen Collective and advertisers including HP and Smirnoff, to create two 12-minute films produced by women. Tide, Olay, Head & Shoulders and other P&G brands will work to promote those films,” Bloomberg’s Green reports.

In related news, the 450-member CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion announced a nationwide educational tour starting this fall that will provide free unconscious bias education. 

“CEO Action’s Check Your Blind Spots mobile tour will make 100 stops across the country delivering interactive sessions, educational materials and creating space for participants to reflect on real-world experiences and how unconscious biases can impact business,” according to a press release.

And in the New York Times this morning, Andrew Ross Sorkin writes that “the concept of an inclusion rider — a special clause in the contract of a lead actor or actress or prominent director that insists on a guarantee of gender and ethnic diversity among the cast and crew — has become increasingly popular” in Hollywood since Frances McDormand raised the issue in her acceptance speech after winning the Best Actress Oscar last March.

“But what if inclusion riders took the leap from Hollywood to Wall Street?” Sorkin asks. “What would happen if the biggest pension funds and university endowments — the financial industry equivalent of A-list actors — were to insist that they would invest only in private equity, venture capital or hedge funds that have certain hiring practices to address the diversity gap?”

And although “Wall Street investment funds have a long of history of being the antithesis of diverse,” Sorkin continues, “… study after study shows that firms that include women on their investment committees empirically outperform their peers.”

As always, the bottom line is the bottom line.

“Some of P&G’s best performing brands have the most gender-equal campaigns — Always Like a GirlSKII Change DestinyOlay Live Fearlessly … as well as Tide, Ariel, Dawn and Swiffer which show men sharing the load in household chores. It’s clear that promoting gender equality is not only a force for good, it’s a force for growth,” Pritchard points out in the P&G release.

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