We Need a Game-Changer for Diversity: Rigorous Measurement

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Antonio Lucio.
Antonio Lucio. Credit: HP

The advertising and marketing industries made progress this year in hiring and representing a better balance of genders, people of color, and diversity. And yet, women still comprise less than 15% of all creative directors and, as we saw this month, CES is struggling to confirm prominent female keynotes.

The numbers for minorities are worse. At this pace, it may be generations before we live in a world where clients, agencies and production houses reflect the communities we serve. As Rev. Jesse Jackson reminded us at Cannes Lions this year, the Civil Rights Movement showed the world that inspiring words must be followed by bold action.

I believe now is the time for such action. ANA CEO Bob Liodice's call to the industry to begin "tracking our progress with rigorous measurements" is precisely the game-changing approach we need.

A year ago, HP participated in a chorus of forward-thinking companies like Airbnb, Unilever, PepsiCo, and Verizon to drive change with their agency partners. We issued a challenge to our agencies: Take direct action to diversify your teams working on our business.

It was a challenge born out of the passionate belief that we are more creative, innovative and successful when our teams are as diverse as the societies in which we live and serve. We set a 12-month goal. We needed actionable data and concrete roadmaps, and we asked our agencies—and committed ourselves—to begin the journey by increasing the share of women and minority leaders in creative and strategic roles.

I was confident in that timeline, because within a year HP significantly raised the diversity of our own workforce: Today 61% of HP's marketing organization and 52% of our managers are women. Importantly, 50% of our most senior leaders are female and 30% are from underrepresented minorities.

Our agencies also proved up to the task. Twelve months after our challenge, we published the scorecards, showing a 20-point increase in the share of women on our account. More importantly, 51% of senior leaders are now women; in many cases, that was up from a baseline of zero. We also increased the number of women in senior creative roles. We're proud of that progress, but also identified room for improvement, as most agencies fell short of their self-imposed goals for underrepresented minorities—which we've made a priority for 2018.

What gets measured gets done

Changing management practices is hard work, but our experiment showed that if you commit to using the full set of tools at your disposal, you can achieve measurable change. Scorecards proved the most important of those tools. What gets measured gets done; and what gets published becomes our bond.

There's already action being taken across our industry, in initiatives like the ANA's #SeeHer and Unilever's Unbiased Alliance, aimed at eliminating bias from advertising need more support. And efforts like Verizon's internship program will help build a new pipeline of diverse talent that we can draw from.

But we must go further. We need bold action, and I think the widespread use of diversity scorecards is our best chance at using real, hard data to set real, hard goals and drive measurable systemic change.

Marketing, like any business, is driven by results. I stand with Bob Liodice because I believe we'll only be able to show those results when we can correlate them to direct changes in our teams. So, let's join together to quantitively measure the impact of diversity in our businesses. We should not wait. We should not be afraid. As an industry: We must commit to release our scorecards now.

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