Tuesday, June 17, 2008

5595: Delayed Reactions To 5594.

Wanted to share a few more thoughts on the IPG diversity efforts highlighted in the USA TODAY story.

As always, any attempts to shatter the tradition of exclusion on Madison Avenue are commendable. In fact, they’re almost obligatory, given the pressures applied by organizations like New York City’s Commission on Human Rights. At the same time, there are points regarding the IPG initiatives that demand examination.

For starters, let’s address the agreement signed by agencies, as well as the commission’s deputy director proclaiming, “We knew this was going to take awhile, but we’re optimistic we’re on the right track.” It’s important to realize the goals were established by the agencies, which is like allowing a criminal to impose her own sentence. Additionally, some agencies didn’t meet the objectives and expressed unhappiness over their failure.

IPG’s recruitment and intern programs are hardly breakthrough. One would think such tactics might be standard operating procedures at every BDA by now. MultiCultClassics actually noted IPG interns in the inaugural post dated March 2005. Hyping this stuff is often a PR smokescreen projected by agencies.

IPG’s latest newbie crop totals 10 people. Do the math. If the IPG network boasts 60 agencies, the number translates to about 0.167 minorities per shop. At this pace, it’ll take generations before the industry announces, “Mission Accomplished.”

Bringing in entry-level workers barely scratches the surface of the global dilemma. The gaping hole exists at the mid- to senior-level ranks. Besides the brand new partnership between the 4As and Howard University, there appears to be little happening in this critical area.

IPG diversity guru Heide Gardner admitted, “We had a high attrition rate with minorities, about 30% higher turnover than with the general population.” Wonder if it had anything to do with newbies seeing virtually zero minorities in the managerial suites. The annual $35K doesn’t help either.

The financial incentives for honchos raise questions too. While it’s great to know success is tied to an individual’s bonuses, revealing the potential losses at $40,000 to $60,000 is pretty crazy. What happens with that spare loot? You could use the money to hire nearly two minorities. And why simply attach penalties to bonuses? Why not link it all directly to executive base salaries?

Finally, let’s view another comment for Draftfcb left at Advertising’s Fifth Column: “HR and management have no idea … how to treat people like humans. How about giving us some space to work rather than lumping us together like cattle?” Insiders recognize the problems at Draftfcb go beyond cubicle allocation. The place continues to struggle marrying the direct marketing and branding advertising divisions.

If you can’t even develop professional integration, it’s gonna be tough to reach cultural nirvana too.

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