P&G, Ogilvy take steps to address diversity

At Cannes, companies outline goals and initiatives to take on the issue from an internal perspective.

A pair of heavy hitters in advertising and marketing have used this year’s Cannes Lions to set concrete goals for how they plan to address improving diversity in the industry.

First alluded to when the agency network announced a rebranding and reorganization earlier this month, Ogilvy’s global co-chairman and chief creative officer Tham Khai Meng said during a presentation at Cannes that he would hire 20 women in senior creative roles globally by the end of 2020. Meng did not provide a definition of what kinds of roles it considered “senior,” but the agency said in a statement to Adweek that they would be “executive/senior-level managers” who “plan, direct, form policies and set the strategy” within the organization. The agency will also be developing a pipeline for senior women of colour globally, with key hires set to happen over the next two years.

Ogilvy’s creative departments will be re-surveyed after 12 months to track their progress, but the agency has also partnered with The 3% Movement – which champions women in creative leadership roles – and founder, entrepreneur Kat Gordon, to help “keep [them] honest,” Khai said.

On the client side, P&G has announced it will ensure there is equal representation along its entire creative supply chain through partnerships with a range of organizations.  It will work with actor/producer Queen Latifah’s The Queen Collective to help accelerate gender and racial diversity behind the camera on its projects, having also worked with HP, Smirnoff, Wieden+Kennedy, Ketchum, United Talent Agency Marketing and Tribeca Studios. P&G is also partnering with journalist Katie Couric’s company, Katie Couric Media, on its own initiatives to produce more content across different platforms created by groups of women.

Finally, P&G has partnered with Free The Bid, taking the organization’s pledge to include a woman director on any triple-bid project. Publicis Groupe, the CPG’s largest agency partner, has also taken the pledge to cover its own networks globally, and both will work with HP to help expand Free The Bid’s number of directors and presence in other markets.

Diversity has been a recurring issue at Cannes in recent years. In 2016, Unilever used the stage at Cannes to announce its “Unstereotype” initiative  to be more progressive in its portrayal of gender in its advertising. At last year’s festival, CMO Keith Weed announced it was working with a consortium of companies including P&G – as well as Mars, Microsoft, J&J, Mattel, WPP and Google – to develop a measurement system and set goals for the initiative.

But the announcements at this year’s festival seem to be an acknowledgement that those kinds of changes to creative output aren’t going to come without internal changes and looking at the people responsible for making the content. P&G’s own research found that women and girls are inaccurately or negatively portrayed in 29% of ads, further citing the fact that only 32% of CMOs, 33% of agency CCOs and 10% of directors are women as part of what is causing the issue. P&G will also work with the Association of National Advertisers to help convince other advertisers to increase the number of women in these senior roles.

But beyond representation, it’s important to address the issue not as a quota to be filled, but by acknowledging the value of women and people of colour and what they bring to an organization, said The 3% Movement’s founder.

“Diversity is not a headcount issue,” Gordon said during Ogilvy’s announcement. “If you hire a bunch of women or leaders of colour and they don’t feel like they belong or are prized, they’re going to leave.”