MultiCultClassics is often occupied with real work. As a result, a handful of events occur without the expected blog commentary. This limited series—Delayed WTF—seeks to make belated amends for the absence of malice.
Business Insider published an interview with IPG CEO Michael Roth at Advertising Week Europe, which included the following excerpt:
BI: One of the other big over-arching advertising topics that has certainly had a few high-profile cases this year has been diversity in the industry.
IPG has been no exception with what happened at Campbell Ewald (IPG fired the agency’s CEO and a staffer who sent a racist email to colleagues inviting them to take part in a “Ghetto Day”) the ongoing JWT discrimination suit (in which the agency’s now former CEO is accused of making racist and sexist slurs — allegations he denies.) What are holding groups like yourselves doing to ensure there are less of these cases happening?
MR: When I first joined the industry I felt as though diversity and inclusion was not properly reflected in the industry, so 10 years ago we embarked on diversity and inclusion being a core part of the DNA at IPG.
It’s now to a point where our agency heads are held accountable for improvements on diversity and inclusion. When I mean accountable, I mean it affects their bonuses. And we have in fact enforced that to a point where, since we embarked on this program, we have had an improvement of over 50% of manager-level people representative of inclusion and diversity goals over the past 10 years. There is more work to come but I think we’ve made it our DNA.
The other part of it is that we have a zero-tolerance for it. As reflected in the Campbell Ewald [incident.] The second I heard about this, we took action. Not only with respect to the individual who wrote that email, which was offensive, but the individual who was responsible for him, and I took action on them. There was no hesitancy on my part, as opposed to some others.
And, frankly, I was very proud of the fact that I received both internally and externally a lot of comments appreciating how swiftly we acted in that case and our people were very much appreciative of it because they knew it was part of our core.
BI: What is it about the advertising industry that is different to other sectors when it comes to diversity issues?
MR: When I challenge individuals they say there are not enough candidates that are interested in the field, and so on.
Intuitively, that does not make sense. I don’t accept that as an answer when we go over this. We have to do a better job of reaching out and, in essence, selling the career path that we offer. It’s a great career path.
We are in the marketing and communication business. How can we not represent the consumer?
And, by the way, on the gender side, 80% of all purchasing decisions are made by females. So if we don’t have a fair representation just on the female side, we are missing the boat.
But as far as people of color … the same is true. Hispanic is one of the largest growing populations in the world. How can we not be representative of that in terms of the talent? And our clients are demanding this.
So Roth believes a decade of smokescreens has resulted in diversity and inclusion becoming a part of the IPG DNA? Okay, let’s review the progressive proof:
• Four words: Campbell Ewald Ghetto Days.
• IPG behemoth Draftfcb—now FCB—vowed to eliminate the term “diversity and inclusion” from the corporate lexicon by 2014. Now the words are a “core part the DNA at IPG.” Sorry, but IPG is rotten to the core.
• IPG faced a $50 million race-discrimination lawsuit.
• IPG faced an age discrimination lawsuit.
• Deutsch, an IPG White advertising agency, dumped its Diversity Director, who claimed she was told the shop “was no longer going to invest in diversity.”
• IPG brags about dubious diversity awards and its fuzzy commitment and experience with progress.
• IPG publishes gobbledygook claiming to be recognized for leadership in diversity and inclusion—in an industry where everyone admits the dearth of diversity and inclusion is fucked up. It’s like boasting that you’re the smartest Stooge.
And the list goes on.