HP Sent Out ‘A Challenge to Agency Leadership’ Regarding Diversity

By Erik Oster 

General Mills made headlines this week by revealing on Tuesday that it has specific diversity requirements for the agencies competing in its creative review, requiring the creative departments of its future agency partners to include 50 percent women and 20 percent people of color.

Today we’ve learned that HP chief marketing and communications officer Antonio Lucio sent out a letter to current agency partners with a similar call to action regarding diversity on August 30. After making an effort to foster diversity internally, with a specific eye toward closing the gender gap with female hires, HP is now asking the same of its agency partners. Among the recipients of the letter were BBDO, FleishmanHillard, Gyro, Fred&Farid and Porter Novelli.

“Diversity gives HP a competitive advantage. It helps drive new business, fuel innovation, and attract and attain the best employees,” an HP representative said in a statement offered to AgencySpy. “This letter is a call to action. Now that we have built our business case and begun to put our own house in order, we are relying on our agency partners to do the same; we are expecting these marketing and communications leaders to actively embrace diversity and actually do something about it.”

HP is expecting its agency partners to act fast on plans to increase diversity. “We have called upon each of our agency partners’ CEOs to develop a plan that significantly increases the representation of women and people of color in top creative and strategic roles,” the representative added. “Without exception the responses we have received are of true enthusiasm and commitment. Our agency partners now have 30 days to deliver their plans and 12 months to make good on those plans – and we intend to monitor each firm’s performance along the way.”

While the letter makes reference to a “a scorecard that will track multiple levels of diversity,” which HP has implemented for its own efforts and now expects to be adopted by its agency partners, it’s unclear if HP has specific diversity quotas for its agencies, as with General Mills’ demands in its creative review, or if it is working with its agency partners to determine the best way to reach its ultimate diversity goals. It’s also unclear if HP is echoing General Mills’ targeting of creative departments in particular. But it is clear that the company has set out a very specific timeline for agencies to set up and implement plans for increased diversity.

We’ve included the letter in full below:

A Challenge to Agency Leadership

August 30

Dear Friends,

Earlier this month I spoke with you — the CEOs of all of HP’s advertising and marketing agency partners — to ask that we all join in making an important commitment to radically improve the percentage of women and people of color in leadership roles in our organizations. I’m delighted that without exception you gave your enthusiastic support for this pledge.

How successful we are will define our legacies. So, as you set your goals and make your plans, I ask you to keep these points in mind:

At HP, our vision is to make technology that makes the world a better place for everyone, everywhere. But we recognize that we can’t realize our vision if our business leaders don’t represent everyone, in color, gender, and geography. We take great pride that HP has the most diverse board of directors in the technology industry, and that we make diversity an explicit business goal. Yet I know we can do even more. I know we must do more.

Including women and people of color in key roles is not only a values issue, but a significant business imperative. 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.

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.

We make printers and personal computers. Who buys them? Women: 53 percent for computers, 45 percent for printers. We are focused on ensuring that our marketing department has the right talent composition to capture our business opportunities. Over the last 12 months we have invested in programs designed to ensure that at least half of our top marketing jobs are held by women. It is important to understand that these were not random moves to increase representation. Instead, they were new opportunities for high-potential people and strategic hires and the quality of our team output has never been better.

To measure our own efforts, we are creating a scorecard that will track multiple levels of diversity of our own global marketing organization. We are far from perfect, and I know there will be challenges, but I am committed to immediate, global, impact, rigorously measuring our performance and being transparent about the gaps to overcome.

I am asking the same of each of you.

My expectation is that in the next 30 days, you will deliver formal plans – and within 12 months make good on those plans. Thank you for working to significantly increase the percentage of women in top creative and strategic roles on our account.

We owe this to ourselves, to each other and to future generations. By making the important and necessary changes today, together we can bend the arc of history in favor of inclusion and opportunity. Now comes the proof of our commitment. Thank you for joining us.

Antonio Lucio

Chief Marketing & Communications Officer

HP Inc.