General Mills Insists That Its Future Agencies Meet Specific Diversity Quotas

By Erik Oster 

Tuesday, General Mills CMO Ann Simonds revealed to AdAge that the company has some very specific diversity requirements for its creative review: It wants its agencies’ creative departments to be staffed with at least 50 percent women and 20 percent people of color. Regarding the new quotas, she added, “we are very excited about that. If you are going to put people you serve first, the most important thing is to live up to it and make it a key criteria.”

Simonds is leading that review—which was launched a little over a month ago and originally thought to be closed—along with CCO and former Fallon chief strategy officer Michael Fanuele. Fanuele told AdAge the goal of the review is to find “one core agency to handle the bulk [of the work] but to supplement with other partners, which might be technology platforms or media partners,” or, put another way, “an anchor agency supplemented with a roster of interesting partners.”

According to our sources, the review is now down to three unnamed finalists from a pool including 72andSunny, McCann, Deutsch, Mother, Ogilvy and a Publicis “holding company solution.”


Fanuele told AdAge that McCann pitching as an IPG holding company solution remained a possibility, saying, “The clay is still wet on the proposal,” and “This an exercise in finding the right partners, not the right model.”

The fact that the diversity requirements specifically target agency creative departments is telling. It speaks to recent discussions spurred by groups like the The 3% Conference, whose most recent survey found that just 11.5 percent of agency creative directors are female.

The significance of the diversity requirements and the possibility it may impact other brands in the future is not lost on Simonds. “It feels like a first,” she said. “I think it’s rare and it is important.”

So far there’s no word on how, exactly, General Mills plans to enforce these requirements … or how quickly the agencies in question are scrambling to meet them.