DDB worldwide chairman and chief creative officer Bob Scarpelli has these thoughts that he likes to share with staffers. Sometimes they’re short and sweet, sometimes they are mangled and mashed. In today’s case, it’s sadly the latter as Mr. Scarpelli attempts to discuss diversity, as well as Omnicom’s recent retention of the ever vigilant Tiffany R. Warren as Chief Diversity Officer.
As you read the Chairman’s letter, just keep these thoughts in the back of your mind:
– For how long are agencies going to be okay with saying, as Bob does, we have a “long way to go?” Consider that ad agencies are always absent from Diversity Inc.’s annual ranking of the top 50 most diverse companies. Maybe DDB should have gotten on the ball before 2008, when they appointed human resources manager Minerva Garcia to the newly created position of chief diversity officer. Perhaps, they’d be farther along by now. And yes, there was Spike DDB, but that wasn’t diversity, that was DDB creating a minority firm, an annex.
– Why does an Executive Leadership Committee need a Chief Diversity Officer “reminding us of the far-reaching benefits of a diverse employee base?” Well, they didn’t know that back in 2006, so this is an improvement. Back in 2006, DDB along with the rest of Omnicom, stalled on signing onto the New York City Human Rights Commission diversity pact. With the threat of a real live class action lawsuit looming, they changed their tune right quick, no? Good. Good.
– “Bureaucracy kills diversity.” Ha-ha, oh, laughable! Given that Omnicom agencies have the worst hiring records according to New York City’s Commission on Human Rights. Can we now safely conclude that Omnicom is the most bureaucratic network on Earth?
– Finally, Scarpelli wrote: “From a practical standpoint, today more than ever, we have to be able to tap into talents beyond our own traditional skill sets.” Sure, but last week, DDB New York replaced Lee Garfinkel with BBDO’s Eric Silver. Tap into talents beyond our own traditional skill sets? DDB couldn’t even tap beyond its own agency network?
As Sanford Moore said to Adage the other day about Chief Diversity Officers: “If they do any good, where are the black executives in the organizations that they’re hired to? Besides themselves, who else is there?” And, “The diversity officers, I mean they’re window dressing. They don’t have power, they can’t hire.”
Oh, Bobby. You got a lot of work to do. From here on out, just let Warren write your copy when you’re talking diversity, because this kind of stuff just looks like serious whitewashing (ha!). You can see his full email below or view DDB’s Diversity Powerpoint presentation here.
Here’s a thought from Bob Scarpelli
Last week at our Executive Leadership Committee meeting, we had a thought-provoking presentation from Tiffany R. Warren, Omnicomâ€™s Chief Diversity Officer, reminding us of the far-reaching benefits of a diverse employee base.
Maintaining and increasing diversity in our workplace is a serious issue we must address. And we are actively addressing it. Thanks to the efforts of our Diversity Council, led by Stacey Prenner, we have identified and set a number of initiatives in motion but we also know we have a long way to go to achieve our goals.
A couple of things Tiffany pointed out in her presentation really jumped out at me. One was: “Bureaucracy kills diversity. All efforts have to be nurtured in a supportive corporate culture.” It sounds obvious but I hope every individual in each of our offices across the world finds DDB a place where the diversity of ideas, cultures, life experiences, talents and points of view are welcomed and encouraged. Our official Diversity and Unity statement, issued last year, says in part: “Ideas are the fuel of our business. The more inclusive our DDB cultural landscape and the deeper the well of ideas, the stronger we will be. Simple as that. So we cultivate an atmosphere as intellectually curious about differences as it is respectful of them. Within our walls you’ll find diversity in race, culture, religious belief, who we give our hearts to, artistic talents, athletic enthusiasm (or lack thereof) and countless, fascinating versions of the human experience. Yet at the end of the day, we will always find ourselves indivisible beneath the flag we call creativity.”
From a practical standpoint, today more than ever, we have to be able to tap into talents beyond our own traditional skill sets. We cannot only say we believe that a good idea can come from anywhere and anyone, we have to “walk the talk.” We cannot provide the Creative Business Solutions (not just “ads”) that we promise to our clients if we don’t.
Finally, Tiffany quoted the anthropologist Margaret Mead with what could be a mandate for all of us who shape DDB’s future: Speaking of society in general she said, “We need every human gift and cannot afford to neglect any gift because of artificial barriersâ€¦”
We really do need all the “human gifts” that all of you bring to our company and our clients every day, each in your own unique way.
Chief Creative Officer