Omnicom Group's John Wren finally releases workforce diversity data in staff memo
Omnicom Group Chairman-CEO John Wren released the holding company's staff diversity makeup in an internal email to employees on Monday. The executive also laid out the company's "Open 2.0" action plan "to achieve our ultimate goal: systemic equity throughout Omnicom."
According to the email, 2.7 percent of Omnicom's executive managers, 4.8 percent of its mid managers and 5.5 percent of all its professionals are Black; 7.2 percent of executive managers, 8.9 percent of mid managers and 11.1 percent of professionals are Asian; 4.9 percent of executive managers, 8.6 percent of mid managers and 10.3 percent of professionals are Hispanic; and 84.1 percent of executive managers, 74.8 percent of mid managers and 70.1 percent of all professionals are white.
The move comes after Nathan Young, group strategy director at Minneapolis-based agency Periscope and co-founder of the nonprofit 600 & Rising, called out Omnicom Group on an episode of Ad Age Remotely for not releasing its diversity makeup data or responding to the 12 action-steps he laid out for agencies in an open letter last month to tackle racism in the ad world.
"They haven't made any commitment to change" or "even acknowledged 600 & Rising's existence," Young claimed on the episode.
When asked today to comment on Omnicom's move to finally release its diversity data and on its "Open 2.0" plan, Young criticized as having "incredibly broad goals that are designed to skirt accountability."
"Put it back in the oven. This plan is half-baked," Young told Ad Age. "Given how much they delayed this release, I expected more. The excuses their executives gave me is that they were taking their time to ensure they get this right. If that was their goal, they failed."
Young said he is "glad they finally released their numbers. They should be commended for that at least. As recent as last week, I heard they would not be releasing numbers so that is a pleasant surprise."
"This is a small step in the right direction," Young added. "I hope they will start to engage with our organization, as the rest of the holding companies have done, so that we can make meaningful progress on diversity."
Wren's email to staff made no mention of 600 & Rising's call to action letter, which other holding companies and agencies have cited as the impetus for releasing their diversity data.
"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," Wren instead explained in the email. "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."
Wren said "understanding and providing transparency in where we currently stand is a necessary first step" to enacting change. He said, "It's clear that we, and our industry, need to do more to truly reflect the businesses, communities and consumers we serve."
Wren detailed Omnicom's plan, called Open 2.0, for achieving "equal representation, development, support and retention of marginalized groups."
Open 2.0, according to the email, includes expanding Omnicom's current Open Leadership Team by appointing diversity directors as direct reports to the CEOs of each network and practice area.
Wren said the holding company will work to promote its agencies' diversity, equity and inclusion programs to attract and recruit diverse talent under the Open 2.0 plan. According to the email, the company will also establish a talent advocacy program to pair individuals with mentors in positions of power; create a talent advancement program through which human resources will work with employees to ensure they have paths to promotion; establish a client diversity, equity and inclusion communications program to update Omnicom's clients on the progress it is making; offer pro-bono services to organizations and nonprofits that its agencies support; and expand its diversity training programs.
Wren said in the email that Omnicom's final action will involve holding "our leaders accountable" for the progression of its diversity, equity and inclusion measures. He said the company will be establishing Omnicom-wide key performance indicators (KPIs) that "will become part of our everyday operations, and an important factor in executive compensation."
"Systemic equity will only happen if every one of us contributes and takes responsibility," Wren wrote in the email. "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."
Various other holding companies and agencies released their diversity makeup last month. Interpublic Group of Cos. was the first to do so followed by Dentsu Aegis Network, Publicis Group and Havas. Wieden+Kennedy is among the group of independent agencies to release such data. WPP, meanwhile, was the first holding company to announce a commitment to taking "decisive action on each of the 12 points in the 'Call for Change'" open letter by 600 & Rising.