Adweek reported Omnicom President and CEO John Wren sent out a memo that included the White holding company’s EEO-1 data, displaying dismal figures “largely in line with those of the other major advertising holding companies that have released similar data.” In other words, the entire industry equally sucks at diversity and inclusion. Wren also presented an 8-part action plan, regurgitating many of the contrived and clichéd suggestions that have been integrated into D&I discussions for decades. The memo proclaimed the proposal is designed to “attain equal representation, development, support and retention of marginalized groups…” In short, Wren admits there is much work to do. So, let’s check the scoreboard. For starters, IPG—the self-proclaimed recognized leader in diversity and inclusion—recently confessed, “We must do better.” Now Omnicom—the enterprise headed by a Pioneer of Diversity and the industry’s first Chief Diversity Officer for a holding company—just displayed its shamefully low racial and ethnic minority representation numbers. It appears the most pseudo progressive firms are not generating significantly greater results than competitors doing little to nothing. And why the hell aren’t the trade journals asking Cyrus Mehri and Sanford Moore to offer perspectives?
By Minda Smiley
Omnicom has released the makeup of its workforce in the U.S. as part of a broader plan to achieve “systemic equity” at the holding company.
In a staff memo, Omnicom CEO John Wren shared its U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) data, which is broken into three categories: executive managers, mid-level managers and professionals. According to the report, 2.7% of its executive managers are Black, 7.2% are Asian, and 4.9% are Hispanic.
At the “professionals” level, 5.5% of employees are Black, 11.1% are Asian, and 10.3% are Hispanic.
Its numbers are largely in line with those of the other major advertising holding companies that have released similar data. At Dentsu Aegis Network, IPG, Havas and Publicis, Black employees hold less than 3% of executive roles. WPP and MDC Partners have not released their workforce diversity data, although the former has indicated that it plans to.
“Understanding and providing transparency in where we currently stand is a necessary first step in committing to change and paving a path forward,” Wren said in the memo.
The staffing breakdown comes roughly two months after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, which Wren called “tragic and heartbreaking” in an email he sent to staffers on June 1. In the email, he said diversity and inclusion are two of Omnicom’s “core values.”
In addition to revealing its workforce data, Omnicom has laid out an eight-part plan called OPEN 2.0 that Wren said will help the company reach systemic equity across the organization. According to Wren, it aims to “attain equal representation, development, support and retention of marginalized groups,” particularly in the U.S., for BIPOC employees.
The eight steps include:
1. Expand the OPEN leadership team: The Omnicom People Engagement Network (OPEN) encompasses its employee resource groups and diversity, inclusion and equity (DE&I) efforts, led by chief diversity officer Tiffany R. Warren and includes 15 other executives across its various agencies. According to Omnicom, the team will be “expanded and further supported.” Additionally, the CEOs of each network and practice area will have a diversity director as a direct report.
2. Attract and recruit talent: Omnicom’s agencies, which include BBDO, DDB and TBWA, will “promote our DE&I programs and initiatives,” though no additional information was provided.
3. Provide development opportunities: Establish a Talent Advocacy Program that pairs an individual with a mentor who can advocate for their mentee’s success and advancement.
4. Retain and grow employees: A new networking-focused Talent Advancement Program will allow HR and recruiting professionals to source talent across various agencies to “more efficiently and effectively provide career advancement.”
5. Update clients on progress: A new Client DE&I Communications Program will regularly update clients on initiatives and accomplishments. As part of this, Omnicom plans to expand supplier diversity programs.
6. Implement partnerships: Identify organizations that its agencies “enthusiastically support” to offer professional services on a pro-bono basis.
7. Expand training programs: Build training programs designed to “create awareness and sensitivity to issues regarding DE&I, such as global mandatory unconscious bias training.”
8. Establish accountability: Each agency “will have specified actions, with deadlines, to ensure advancement of DE&I initiatives,” with CEOs held accountable.
“We have always said our people are our No. 1 priority, and this plan puts our words into action. Small gestures, quick reactions and disparate efforts will never be enough to create the systemic equity we strive to achieve,” Wren concluded in the memo, adding that the plan was developed to maintain “energy and focus for years to come.”