Internal Memo: Dentsu Aegis Network CEO, Americas Jacki Kelley Shares EEOC Diversity Numbers With Employees

By Erik Oster Comment

Dentsu Aegis Network CEO, Americas Jacki Kelley, who succeeded Nick Brien in that role last December, sent an internal memo to all Dentsu Aegis Network employees in the region yesterday outlining steps the holding company is taking to address systemic racism. The message followed a town hall event earlier in the day and included Dentsu Aegis Network sharing its EEOC diversity statistics for the U.S. with employees.

“As I said a few weeks ago and again today, we realize just striving for inclusivity isn’t enough to achieve meaningful change, we must also be actively anti-racist,” Kelley said to open the memo. She said that the network had an obligation to examine its practices and behavior and “create sustainable equity for our Black, Hispanic, LatinX and other underrepresented colleagues.”

Kelley said she was proud of the difficult conversations they had begun which were “necessary for us to build plans together to create a truly diverse workplace, absent of discrimination, racism or bias.”

Dentsu Aegis Network’s plans for a more equitable workplace align with guiding principles discussed in its town hall, including: not confusing activity for progress; being fast, but thoughtful; seeking progress rather than perfection; an inside/out focus; openly sharing what it creates and learn in an attempt to advance the industry; tying KPIs to compensation; and shared principles with office actions.

Kelley referenced the recent open letter signed by over 600 Black advertising professionals calling on industry leaders for change, which included a request for openly sharing diversity data to improve accountability. To that end, she said, Dentsu Aegis Network decided to share its EEOC numbers with employees. Black employees made up just 1.8% of executives, 2.5% of management and 6.9% of professionals. 83.4% of executives, 81.5% of management and 71.6% of professionals, meanwhile, are white. Asian Americans represent 7.1% of executives, 9.2% of management and 11.5% of professionals. Latinx employees comprise 3.6% of executives, 5.1% of management and 7.2% of professionals.

“We clearly have work to do, but this is just where we are today. Change is not only possible, it is probable,” Kelley said, promising, “We will be relentless.”

She also committed to prioritizing “improvements on practices, procedures and training” to “ensure we are making decisions that will result in greater representation of more diverse candidates and employees,” something she said would engender “richer discussions with widely varied perspectives, from which our communities and clients will benefit.”

Kelley called on all employees to be active allies in this process.

“While I am proud of the direction we are taking, I don’t want any of our work to be seen as an opportunity to pat ourselves on the back for simply recognizing what our Black, Hispanic, LatinX and POC colleagues have been pointing out for far too long,” she concluded. “Right now, we are going to focus on the work we need to do, to achieve the change we want to see, and once we have meaningful progress we will share with our industry peers, as we hope they will share with us too, so together we can create a more equitable workplace within our walls and beyond.”

Here’s the memo in full:

Dear Americas,

As I said a few weeks ago and again today, we realize just striving for inclusivity isn’t enough to achieve meaningful change, we must also be actively Anti-Racist. We have an obligation to take a critical look at our practices and behavior, so that we can create sustainable equity for our Black, Hispanic, LatinX and other underrepresented colleagues. We also have an obligation to do the work to create that change. I am proud of the open discussions about race we have begun to have with each other. They may be uncomfortable and at times painful, but I think we all agree that those conversations are necessary for us to build plans together to create a truly diverse workplace, absent of discrimination, racism, or bias.

Today in our Building a Better Dentsu Town Hall, we shared with you our plan and its actions to enable a more equitable workplace, which is aligned with the following guiding principles:

  • We will not confuse activity for progress, or compliance for commitment​
  • Fast, but thoughtful​
  • Progress v perfection​
  • Inside/out focus​
  • Share all we create and learn to advance the industry ​
  • Critical KPIs tied to compensation​
  • Shared principles with office actions​

These principles are key to us being successful. Our actions and their progress will tell our story and our efforts will be measurable in many meaningful ways. Naturally, we also want to see movement in our workforce diversity data, but we know that will take time. However, if we set a clear focus and intention on systemic change, linking accountability to the progress of our actions and efforts, we will feel the change more quickly. I applaud everyone who took the time to go into Workday and self-report this past week. While we do not have 100% reporting, we believe transparency is critical. Last week, in a letter signed by 600+ of our Black Ad Industry colleagues, they asked for public reporting of workforce diversity data to foster accountability. IPG was the first HoldCo to report out their data on Friday. We fully support this transparency, both as a company and for our industry. As we shared at our Town Hall earlier today, this is our US workforce diversity data:

We clearly have work to do, but this is just where we are today. Change is not only possible, it is probable. We will be relentless. We have seen that when we focus our efforts and have agreement, together we are able to achieve aspirational goals. As we prioritize improvements on practices, procedures and training, we will ensure we are making decisions that will result in greater representation of more diverse candidates and employees. And as a result, we will create a more diverse and inclusive population, that engenders richer discussions with widely varied perspectives, from which our communities and clients will benefit. When I said we all need to be Anti-Racist, I was committing us all to being active in this both mind-set AND actions – becoming Allies, not just advocates; committing to “un-learning” as much as we are committing to learning.

While I am proud of the direction we are taking, I don’t want any of our work to be seen as an opportunity to pat ourselves on the back for simply recognizing what our Black, Hispanic, LatinX and POC colleagues have been pointing out for far too long. Right now, we are going to focus on the work we need to do, to achieve the change we want to see, and once we have meaningful progress we will share with our industry peers, as we hope they will share with us too, so together we can create a more equitable workplace within our walls and beyond.

Jacki

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