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NYC Revises Diversity Stats

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The New York City Commission on Human Rights has amended the results of its monitoring of the minority hiring practices of 15 New York agencies last year and now finds that Young & Rubicam exceeded its goals in the hiring of professional staffers such as copywriters.

Previous commission data indicated that the WPP Group shop fell slightly short of its professional hiring goal, which was expressed as a percentage of total hires. Y&R's goal was 30 percent and the commission last month said that professional minority hires represented 26 percent. The latest data shows that Y&R actually exceeded its goal, coming in at 39 percent.

The commission's latest figures also produced a slight change in Y&R's results for management minority hires: 26 percent -- not 20 percent, as previously indicated -- of such hires were minorities, well above the 18 percent goal the agency set for itself. And during the commission's three years of monitoring Y&R's hiring practices, the shop exceeded its management and professional goals each year.

"Y&R continues to make serious efforts -- across a broad range of initiatives -- to increase the diversity of the agency," North American CEO Tom Sebok said. "Over the past couple of years, we've set high goals and consistently exceeded them, which fuels our continued commitment."

The commission amended its data after executives there spoke to execs at Y&R. Commission execs questioned whether the job titles of some of the hires that Y&R reported met the definition of professional hires and based on the agency's explanation, they found that they did, a representative said.

The change in Y&R's status left just three agencies falling short of their 2009 minority hiring goals: Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, Interpublic
Group's Avrett Free Ginsberg and the direct marketing arm of WPP's G2. The commission defined "minorities" broadly as blacks, Hispanics, Asian Americans and Native Americans.

The 15 agencies -- which also included Havas' Euro RSCG, Omnicom Group's BBDO and Interpublic's Draftfcb -- agreed to the commission's oversight in late 2006, after the panel investigated hiring, retention and promotion practices in the advertising industry. Each shop signed a three-year "memorandum of understanding" that enabled the commission to track such practices. In return, the panel terminated a probe that began in 2004.

The agency agreements expired at the end of last year and are not renewable, although the commission has the power to launch new investigations.