HP Challenged Its 5 Agencies to Improve Their Workforce’s Diversity. Here Are the Results

They employ more women, but still have work to do for underrepresented groups

Here's how HP agencies have improved upon their diversity numbers. HP
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One year ago HP CMO Antonio Lucio called on the brand’s five agency partners to really focus on improving diversity numbers. Lucio sent a letter to BBDO Worldwide, Fred & Farid, gyro, PHD and Edelman asking that, within 30 days, each agency send a plan detailing how they would get more women and people of color working at their agencies within a year. Each agency could set their own goals, but they needed to meet with HP quarterly and numbers had to improve year over year.

“Diversity is as much a business imperative as it is a values issue,” Lucio said. “We also believe that the only way that we are going to transform our business and the only way that the agencies are going to transform is through a comprehensive platform for change. That means clients need to transform, agencies need to transform and production houses need to transform and these three things need to move at the same time.”

HP wanted its agencies to focus on three specific areas of improvement: overall numbers for agency employees working on the HP business, senior leadership roles and creative leaders. “We told them you are going to set your own objectives and we are going to measure this quarterly,” Lucio added. “This was done directly with us along with the CEO of every agency.”

Now, one year later, Lucio is sharing each agency’s scorecard with the rest of the industry.

Overall, Lucio explained, the number of women working in creative jobs and leadership positions at each agency has greatly increased. 61 percent of the people working on HP’s account teams are women (five percent over the expected goal). When HP began this initiative, all of its agencies were below the 40 percent mark.

Women now make up 51 percent of senior leadership roles (four percent above agency targets). “When we started, in many of the agencies, that number was zero and four of our five agencies actually met their targets that they set for themselves,” he said.

The brand’s two lead creative agencies–BBDO and Fred & Farid–made huge strides to get women working in creative leadership. BBDO went from zero to 40 percent. Fred & Farid also started at zero and went up to 55 percent.

But when it comes to underrepresented groups, Lucio noted the agencies have a lot of room for improvement.

“We have more work to do with underrepresented groups,” Lucio said. At the start of this project, less than 20 percent of people across all of the agencies were from underrepresented groups. Today that number is just over 25 percent.

Three of the five agencies saw an upward tick in minorities, but overall 60 percent of agencies did not meet their targets in this area.

BBDO for example set a goal of 33 percent minorities for its U.S. agencies, but at the end of one year the number was only 25 percent. However, the agency started the year with zero minorities in leadership positions and ended it with a 22 percent increase (the goal was 20 percent).

Fred & Farid went from 21 to 44 percent and PHD went from 21 to 40 percent–the only two agencies to exceed their diversity goals. Within the creative departments, BBDO and Fred & Farid both exceeded their own targets. BBDO went from 13 percent to 30, while Fred & Farid went from zero to 60 percent.

“When I look at all of this I feel very good with the progress made, particularly among women, but on the underrepresented groups we have a lot more work to do,” he added.

Last year, HP also committed to improving its diversity numbers throughout the organization, but did not share its scorecard with the rest of its agencies’ scorecards.

So what does HP have in store for the next year in order to bring more minorities into its agencies?

First, the brand is tasking its partners to think more globally when it comes to diversity. Each agency must identify the most underrepresented group in each country it operates in and set a goal to improve those numbers.

Additionally the company is expanding its partnerships with industry groups in the coming year. To start, HP will join forces with the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity to create a program similar to See It Be It (which focuses on getting senior creative women to the festival and in the spotlight) but will focus on underrepresented groups. The program will launch at the festival next year.

HP also awarded a grant to AdColor and the 3 Percent Conference. AdColor will use the grant to fund professional development of diverse talent while the 3 Percent Conference will use its funding to livestream its annual conference. Finally, HP is renewing its commitment to Free the Bid, an organization that was started to get more women directing gigs.

@ktjrichards katie.richards@adweek.com Katie Richards is a staff writer for Adweek.