Human Rights Commission Releases Agencies' Minority Hiring Goals

Numbers Include Percent of Hires for Management Positions

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NEW YORK ( -- The numbers are in. The New York City Commission on Human Rights today released the first set of goals submitted by the 15 advertising agencies that in September pledged to increase minority hiring and retention.
Tiffany Warren
Tiffany Warren, Arnold's director of multicultural programs and community outreach
point bug Agencies' 2007 Goals for Minority Hires Chart
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Presented as a percentage of total hires for 2007, the goals vary widely by agency. Each of the 15 companies set its own numbers, presumably based on what could reasonably be achieved. (Sixteen agencies originally signed deals, but Draft and FCB have since merged.) Some agencies presented detailed breakdowns of their plans -- Interpublic Group of Cos. agencies outlined the percent of minority employees it intends to recruit, promote and retain; others, such as Omnicom Group's BBDO, DDB, Merkley and PHD, presented goals for new minority hires in two categories: management and professional.

Lacking clear definition
And while the numbers have become clear, there is no single definition for what "minority" means; that has been left for the agencies to decide. One agency executive said the working definition is "non-white" (meaning that white women won't count toward the goal). But Interpublic has set what it calls aspirational goals for recruiting, promoting and retaining women.

The move comes as tensions around the already-touchy issue mount and threaten to become a matter of national debate -- as well as a public relations issue beyond agencies' control.

Earlier this week, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., speaking at a breakfast hosted by Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition/Wall Street Project, took up the issue of minority representation in the industry's senior-most ranks, with the comment, "We're saying to the ad industry, 'We're waiting for you.'"

Already frustrated by the commission's interest in their agencies' staffing matters, some executives earlier this week expressed frustration over Mr. Schumer's comment and the possibility of more pressure from political organizations. "When does this end? It's never enough," said one.

Welcoming the scrutiny
Other agency executives welcome increased attention to issues of diversity and hiring. "Why should advertising and marketing communications have a pass on addressing the same issues that other industries have had to tackle?" said Heide Gardner, VP-diversity management at Interpublic.

Agencies submitted these goals 30 days after signing the accord as the first part of a multipronged, three-year program hammered out between the commission and agencies. The program was the result of a long-running probe by the commission begun in 2003. It culminated with the agreements reached last summer.

Advertising Age contacted each of the 15 agencies earlier this week, asking what each has done and is doing to in the area of diversity recruitment, and what goals each submitted to the commission. Not one agency divulged its goals. Some executives expressed concern over the possibility of negative press, should they be unable to meet their goals.

Public accountability
"I don't want my accountability to be public," said Gunnar Wilmot, chairman-CEO, Gotham. "I have every intention of making the goals, but if I don't make them, I want to preclude your calling me [on it]," he said.

Specific goals, categorized by holding company and agency, are:

  • Omnicom: BBDO aims to achieve minority employment of 15% in management new hires and 28% in professional; DDB, 10% in management new hires and 20% in professional; Merkley, 10% in management new hires and 22% in professional; PHD, 10% in management new hires and 25% in professional.
  • Havas: Arnold Worldwide aims to achieve minority management and professional hires of 30% of all new hires; Euro RSCG is aiming for 5% of all new hires.
  • Publicis Groupe: Saatchi & Saatchi pledged 16% of total new hires will be minority officials and managers, and 23% will be minority professionals; Kaplan Thaler Group pledged 13% of total new hires will be minority officials and managers, and 15% will be minority professionals.
  • WPP Group: G2 Direct & Digital set goals to place 17% of its total hires as minority officials and managers, and 25% as professionals; G2 Interactive set goals of 16% as minority officials and managers, and 20% as professionals; Ogilvy & Mather, 16% as minority officials and managers, and 33% as professionals; Young & Rubicam, 18% as minority officials and managers, and 30% as professionals.
  • Interpublic Group of Cos.: Gotham set as its goals 10% of all new hires will be minority executive-officials and managers and 5% of all promotions will be minority executive-officials and managers; 10.5% of all new hires will be minority other officials and managers; 7.5% of promotions will be minority other officials and managers; 17% of all new hires will be minority professionals and 7% of all promotions will be minority professionals.
    DraftFCB's goals include 10% of all executive-officials and mangers as minorities; 5% of all executive-officials and managers promotions will be minorities; 9% of all new hires will be other officials and managers; 5% of all other official and manager promotions will be minorities; 24% of all new high-level professionals will be minority and 9% of high-level professional promotions will be minority; 28% of all entry- and mid-level professionals will be minorities and 5% of all entry- and mid-level professional promotions will be minority.
    At Avrett, Free & Ginsberg, goals are for 5% of all new executive-officials and manager new hires to be minority; and 5% of all promotions will be minority executive-officials and managers; 9% of all other officials and manager new hires will be minorities; 3% of all other officials and managers promotions will be minority; 24% of all professional hires will be minority and 6% of all professional promotions will be minorities.
    Interpublic set separate goals for hiring and promoting women.
Changes to workplace
Some agencies or holding companies, such as Arnold, Ogilvy & Mather and Interpublic, have created and implemented significant programs to recruit and retain minorities as well as to foster a workplace that embraces diversity. Arnold's New York office holds quarterly agency seminars on multicultural marketing to provide information and help build awareness among staff on creating an inclusive body of work; participants of another program, dubbed AMEN, for Arnold Multicultural Employee Network, meet regularly to provide each other with support and advice.

"At the end of the day, it's not just about hiring, but getting people to stay," said Tiffany Warren, Arnold's director of multicultural programs and community outreach.

At the end of this year, agencies must submit report cards to the commission with details on, among other things, numbers of hires, with salary range and title, and a set of new hiring goals for 2008. The process will continue for three years, and if agencies do not meet their goals, they must hire outside consultants to help them do so.
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