Havas Group reported this week that African Americans comprise 2.67% of the executive- and director-level management ranks for its U.S. operations.
The figure is in line with ratios of other holding companies. In June, for example, Interpublic released data showing that African Americans comprise 2.6% of its senior and executive level managers, which it said was just slightly ahead of an industry sector defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as “professional, scientific and technical services” which includes advertising firms and other professional services including law firms, management consultants and accounting firms.
Havas said that the percentage of African Americans making up its senior manager/manager/team leader ranks was 5.1% and that across the entire U.S. operation African Americans accounted for 10.8% of the workforce.
By comparison, census figures estimate that about 13.4% of the U.S. population was African American in 2016.
“We have listened to the dialogue across advocacy groups, industry leaders, and our employee base at all levels in the U.S. and beyond,” the company stated. Like many other firms in the industry, it added, “we have our work cut out for us.” That said, “We’ve assessed our business from end-to-end and have produced what we feel is a comprehensive US action plan that will optimize our chances of making real change in how BIPOC employees gain access and opportunity in our organization and how they experience our business overall.”
As part of that effort the company has engaged with the non-profit start-up 600 & Rising, an organization of more than 3,000 Black professionals devoted to making Adland more diverse and has joined its #CommitToChange movement with a specific plan to boost the percentage of African Americans within its senior management ranks.
Nathan Young, group strategy director at agency Periscope and co-founder 600 & Rising praised the company’s efforts during a streaming event held by Adage.com on Friday. He said the holding company and the startup got off to bit of a shaky start, “but to their credit they stepped up” with a plan that includes specifics including a promise to award 50% of its internships to people of color going forward.
The shaky start was a reference to a Paris-based Havas Agency called Rosapark, whose founders and managers are white. Rosa Parks was a Black civil rights pioneer who in the 1950s defied Alabama bus segregation laws. Her case went to the U.S. Supreme Court which found those laws to be unconstitutional. The agency has since said it is considering alternative names.