HP reports uptick in women and minority hiring as a result of agency diversity challenge

HP diversity

HP has been championing diversity in its hiring practices and that of the agencies it works with. On Monday, September 25 the company reported the results of its diversity challenge issued to its global agencies – BBDO Worldwide, Fred & Farid, Gyro, PHD and Edelman – last September.

HP also announced a comprehensive platform to drive systemic industry change and outlines a new challenge for 2018 centered on increasing agency minority and underrepresented group representation around the world.

HP’s 2016/2017 assignment to its agencies was to set targets and diversify their ranks to improve the ratio of women and US minorities working on the HP account and in senior creative roles. HP will also discuss the challenge’s results at its Business Powered by Diversity event at Advertising Week, featuring top leaders from each of its agencies partnered with influencers to highlight progress and learnings.

“Advancing diversity is a business imperative. It fuels our reinvention journey, helping drive transformation in marketing and beyond,” said Antonio Lucio, global chief marketing and communication officer at HP. “HP is a stronger brand and better company because of it. We are proud of our agencies who took on this challenge. They’ve made great progress.”

Highlights of the agency report card include that all agencies exceeded the goal for women representation on HP account teams by over 5% – today, 61% of HP’s worldwide agency account teams consist of women. HP’s two lead creative agencies met targets for women in creative leadership; BBDO went from zero to 40% and Fred & Farid from zero to 55%. However, there is still opportunity for improvement overall. Overall, 8% of all employee growth across HP’s global agencies year-over-year were minorities.

Lucio added that the challenge is a business imperative as much as it is a values issue, and since the company has seen growth over the last two quarters, their efforts are paying off.

“To transform our business and to transform our industry, we need a comprehensive platform of systemic change. It is about transforming the client, transforming the agency, and transforming the production houses with emphasis on directors. All three have to be moving in the right direction at the same time. If we do not do this with specific actions, we’re going to be talking about this issue for the next 10 to 20 years,” he stated.

Lucio noted that more progress had been made in hiring women, and that 2018 will focus more on underrepresented groups.

“When we started this journey, less than 20% of people working in our accounts were from underrepresented groups. Today, over 25% are from underrepresented groups. Fred & Farid went from 21% to 44%, and PHD, our media agency, went from 21% to 40%. The other agencies did make some improvements, but not as significant, therefore we have a lot of work to do this year,” he said.

To get those under represented groups more represented, HP is issuing a new challenge for the agencies to focus on increasing the numbers. They issued the challenge this week and within 24 hours, three of the five agencies had responded positively. Globally, HP is asking each one of its countries to select the focus of our underrepresented groups, then they are going to create objectives and measurements back up their program.

HP is also going to give a grant to support minority recruiting. Plus, they are working with Cannes Lions to create the equivalent of the ‘See it, Be it’ program, which will focus exclusively on underrepresented talent to provide a foot in the door to the creative community. Also, to make sure the progress the company has made with women does not slip, they are renewing their commitment to Free the Bid, to increase the participation of women directors.

“We are using those women and discovering amazing talents that has turned into significant work that has built our business. We’re also going to give a grant to the 3% Conference to ensure that they can do livestream of the conference so more people can have access to the wonderful things that they do,” Lucio added.

To that end, the company is continuing its awareness video executions, like the ones they did for women. One is focused on LGBT, and another for the Hispanic community. Recruiting is a big focus of those videos, and they will help the company to build a pipeline to diversify its workforce, according to Lucio.

“We are part of a movement. It’s a movement that’s getting bigger by the minute. My role is to translate concept into action. If we can support the agency transformation through actions, through publishing our learnings, we are going to continue to do that. We are head, heart and hands committed to this effort. Moving the needle on diversity is not easy. What we learned is that changing hearts and minds is hard but creating behavioral changes is harder. It takes consistency of purpose and top management involvement to get this done,” he concluded.

HP’s diversity programs has its own website and people can join the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #PoweredByDiversity.

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Kyle O'Brien

I am a reporter for The Drum covering a wide array of topics but always trying to tell the best stories possible. I am a former west coaster from California and Portland, Oregon, now living in Pennsylvania — with time spent in NYC each week.

I also play saxophone professionally.

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