Ad giant Omnicom releases diversity numbers showing 5.5% of US staff is Black — read the internal memo outlining CEO's 8-step action plan

  • In a memo to all staff, Omnicom CEO John Wren released numbers showing that 5.5% of all US employees and 2.7% of executive-level managers are Black.
  • Wren outlined an 8-step plan to enhance the company's diversity efforts by expanding employee resource group OPEN.
  • Omnicom's numbers are comparable to those of competitors such as IPG and Havas, which have similarly outlined plans to increase diversity in recent weeks.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Omnicom became the last of the major ad holding companies to announce a new diversity and inclusion plan today, releasing partial US demographic numbers in an internal memo from chairman and CEO John Wren that went out to all staff this afternoon.

According to a graphic accompanying the memo, Omnicom's total staff is currently 5.5% Black, 10.3% Hispanic, and 11.1% Asian. At the executive manager level, employees are 2.7% Black, 4.9% Hispanic, and 7.2% Asian.

The numbers are similar to those of rivals IPG, Dentsu, Publicis, and Havas, all of which released their totals in recent weeks. WPP, the largest holding company by global headcount and revenue, pledged to spend $30 million on diversity efforts over the next three years but has not shared numbers.

An Omnicom spokeswoman declined to comment beyond providing the memo itself.

CEO John Wren pledges "systemic equity" by expanding Omnicom's employee resource group OPEN

In the memo, Wren said the fact that many Black Omnicom employees feel like outsiders at their agencies is "not acceptable" and that the company and the industry at large must do better. 

He outlined plans for OPEN 2.0, an expansion of employee resource group Omnicom People Engagement Network, writing that the company will expand its diversity and inclusion leadership team and work with a larger number of related nonprofits while working to help employees of color advance in their careers and require unconscious bias training for all employees.

Some prominent Black executives have questioned the industry's long-term dedication to diversity. Last month, Steve Stoute, founder of the NBA's agency, Translation, called out Wren by name in an interview.

Read Wren's memo below.

We are a people business, so it has long been our mission to foster diverse and inclusive workplaces where all our people feel comfortable, confident and supported. Racism and discrimination have no place in society or at Omnicom.

Since May, following the tragic acts of racism in the U.S., our agency and network leadership, Black colleagues and diversity champions across our organization have held Town Halls, Safe Room Discussions, Panels and Educational Forums to share thoughts, fears and reactions to current events, as well to discuss actions we can take to address inequalities. I was particularly moved by one of our OPEN Conversation panel sessions celebrating Juneteenth that many of our Black colleagues feel like outsiders at their agencies and don't have a sense of belonging in our industry. That is not acceptable to me or anyone at Omnicom, and I, together with our entire leadership team, am committed to effect change. 

Understanding and providing transparency in where we currently stand is a necessary first step in committing to change and paving a path forward. With this in mind, below is a breakdown of Omnicom's workforce diversity in the United States.

It's clear that we, and our entire industry, need to do more to truly reflect the businesses, communities and consumers we serve. And from your feedback, we have heard loud and clear – words are just words if actions don't follow.

The result of our many discussions is OPEN 2.0, an action plan that builds upon the progress we've made thus far to achieve our ultimate goal: systemic equity throughout Omnicom. Our mission is to attain equal representation, development, support and retention of marginalized groups, and, in particular in the United States, for our Black, Hispanic, Asian and Indigenous professionals and all People of Color. OPEN 2.0 is a framework though – it can be used to support any marginalized group in any one of our markets.  

OPEN 2.0 specifies eight Action Items that will help us move toward achieving systemic equity faster and more effectively. These Action Items were carefully considered, and their highlights are provided below:

  • Action Item #1:  Expand the OPEN Leadership Team – The team, which is led by our Chief Diversity Officer and currently includes 15 Diversity Champions who are dedicated full-time to our DE&I efforts, will be expanded and further supported and empowered. The CEOs of each network and practice area will have a diversity director as a direct report.
  • Action Item #2:  Attracting and Recruiting Talent – Together with the OPEN Leadership Team, our agencies will promote our DE&I programs and initiatives and establish themselves as the best places to belong.
  • Action Item #3: Development – We will establish the Talent Advocacy Program, a program that will pair an individual with a mentor who is in a position of influence and can advocate for the individual's success and advancement.
  • Action Item #4: Retention – We will establish the Talent Advancement Program, a networking system within Omnicom that will allow our HR/Recruiting professionals to source talent from across all Omnicom agencies and offices to more efficiently and effectively provide career advancement. 
  • Action Item #5: Clients – We will establish a Client DE&I Communications Program to regularly update clients on our DE&I initiatives and accomplishments, and we will expand our current supplier diversity programs.
  • Action Item #6: Community – To complement our current partnerships with nonprofit organizations, we will identify additional organizations that our agencies enthusiastically support and offer our professional services on a pro-bono basis to advance their goals.
  • Action Item #7Mandatory Training – We will further expand our training programs designed to create awareness and sensitivity to issues regarding DE&I, such as global, mandatory unconscious bias training.

Being able to measure our progress against these Action Items and hold our leaders accountable is crucial to our success and the success of OPEN 2.0. Action Item #8: Accountability will do just that.

Systemic equity will only happen if every one of us contributes and takes responsibility. Moving forward, each and every agency will have specified actions, with deadlines, to ensure advancement of DE&I initiatives, and executives will be held accountable for executing the actions.

Our progress and effectiveness of implementing the Action Items will be measured by establishing Omnicom-wide key performance indicators (KPIs). Senior executives of Omnicom and the CEOs of each of our networks and practice areas will work with our DE&I leaders to set the KPIs in an Annual DE&I Plan. These KPIs will not be taken lightly — they will become part of our everyday operations and an important factor in executive compensation.  

We have always said our people are our number one 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. OPEN 2.0 was developed to maintain our energy and focus for years to come, and it will create the type of change we know you are asking for and deserve.

Thank you to everyone who shared their feedback with me and our leadership teams. From the beginning, you inspired the mission of OPEN 2.0 and drove the Action Items within this plan.

Achieving systemic equity takes a lot of work. Let's get started.

Sincerely,
John Wren

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