Tech giant HP is following in the footsteps of General Mills by demanding that its advertising agencies are more proactive when it comes to creating diverse workforces.
In a letter to the brand's advertising and PR agencies on Thursday (1 September), which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, the brand's chief marketing officer Antonio Lucio requested that all of the brand's incumbent creative and communications partners hire more women and minorities.
He has asked each of the company's five agencies to submit plans to show how they will increase the number of women and minorities in key creative and strategy roles. The details must be submitted within 30 day according to his memo, and if creative shops don't comply then “anything is on the table,” including potential removal from HP’s roster.
HP's current agencies include BBDO, Gyro and Fred & Farid, as well as two Omnicom-owned PR consultancies.
"Including women and people of color in key roles is not only a values issue, but a significant business imperative," Lucio said in the letter.
"HP thrives on innovation. Study after study confirms that innovation is improved and accelerated by broad perspectives and diversity of thought. Marketers are expected to have deep understanding and insight about their markets, about decision makers, and about customers."
He continued: "We are more likely to create solutions that amaze our customers if our workforce represents the communities we serve. As a global company, we need to take a broad view of diversity as increased representation will take different forms in different countries. We have decided to start by addressing women."
He said in the letter that 53 per cent of HP's computers are purchased by women, and that to measure the company's own progress on the matter it is creating "a scorecard that will track multiple levels of diversity of our own global marketing organization".
The bold move follows on from news yesterday that General Mills has introduced a strict set of diversity requirements for agencies pitching to win its US advertising business.
As part of a diversity push, the cereal maker is only considering agencies which have at least a 50-50 male to female split in their creative departments, and stipulating that at least one fifth of the company's creative staff is made of people of color.