Calling it an industry first, Interpublic has released publicly data about the racial makeup of the holding company’s leadership ranks in the U.S. The company collects the data annually for Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, although there is no legal requirement to disclose it to the general public.
The public release of the data, for calendar year 2019, followed the issuance of an open letter earlier this week to the advertising community by 600 African-American ad professionals demanding (among other things) that the industry be more transparent about minority employment figures.
The data show that African Americans comprise 2.6% of IPG’s senior and executive level managers, just slightly ahead of an industry sector defined as “professional, scientific and technical services” which includes advertising firms and other professional services including law firms, management consultants and accounting firms.
Asians comprise 5.5% of IPG’s senior management ranks versus 10.1% for the sector. Whites comprise 84.9% of the holding company’s leaders versus 82.5% for the sector. For Hispanics/Latinos, the IPG figures is 5.2% versus 3.6% for the industry sector.
In a memo to all IPG staff today CEO Michael Roth said he has been having conversations with numerous groups inside and outside the company in recent weeks to get feedback on the company’s diversity and inclusion efforts and how to better combat systemic racism. A “key theme” was “to have more transparency.” He noted that in many markets outside the U.S., disclosure of the diversity figures is legally required -- not the case here.
“Transparency has always been a core value at our company, and this new disclosure ratchets up the information we will share about IPG,” Roth wrote.
The company also released racial composition data about mid-level managers and professionals. For mid-level managers, the company over-indexes among whites and Hispanics and underperforms among Asians and African-Americans versus the sector.
Among professionals throughout the company IPG over-indexes among African-Americans, whites and Hispanics while under-indexing against Asians.
While the company is broadly in line with the sector, Roth stated, “this is not a great place to be. We can all agree that we MUST do better.”
The company does set diversity hiring goals throughout the company, and some managers have had compensation tied to meeting those goals. In the future more leaders within the firm will have compensation-linked diversity goals to meet, Roth stated.
The IPG chief also noted feedback that “the creative product we produce for clients must always contribute to equity and must de-stigmatize people of color.” He said the firm’s global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion group would redouble its efforts to “ensure we continue to do just that.”
Roth referenced the letter from the Black ad professional community noting that its requested actions were “doable and consistent” with steps IPG is taking. “But the demands by our Black colleagues also make clear that the actions we have taken so far are not adequate.”
Roth added, “I commit to you that we will continue listening, continue working and continue to come up with innovative solutions to our industry’s problem.”