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Agency holding company pledges $50 million toward inclusion and social justice

Publicis Groupe became the latest holding company to share its U.S. diversity data today.

The numbers were announced in an internal memo from Pubicis Groupe CEO Arthur Sadoun, which outlined seven steps that the holding company is taking to improve diversity, inclusion and equity, including an investment of 45 million euros ($50.7 million) in D&I efforts and social justice over three years.

In the U.S., where nearly 21,000 Publicis employees have self-reported their ethnicity, 5.4% of its workforce is Black. This includes 8% in junior roles, 4.6% in mid-level positions and 1.9% at the senior leadership level.

IPG and Dentsu Aegis Network recently released their diversity numbers as well, while WPP has indicated that it plans to.

The reveals come less than a month after 600 & Rising, a newly formed nonprofit that advocates for Black people in the advertising industry, outlined 12 steps that agencies can take to address systemic racism. One of the steps asks agencies to “track and publicly report workforce diversity data on an annual basis to create accountability for the agency and the industry.”

In Sadoun’s memo, he said 18,000 employees “paused for the day” on June 17 to “listen, learn and ideate ways in which we can move the diversity and inclusion mandate at Publicis forward.”

Despite having “many initiatives with significant financial support,” he said it’s time for the company to take “fewer but stronger actions with ongoing measurement and accountability” moving forward.

“What has become clear is that too many initiatives and disparate efforts without focus does not drive the necessary impact to truly change things,” he wrote.

As a result, Publicis plans to take seven actions moving forward:

  1. Publishing and monitoring diversity data on an annual basis
  2. Putting 45 million euros ($50.7 million) toward funding its commitment to Black talent, allies and leaders, including training programs, subsidizing partnerships, and supporting institutions fighting against racism
  3. Cultivating Black talent via career development programs, mentorship and coaching, with metrics that will be “monitored, measured and also reviewed.”
  4. “Design a recruitment, interviewing and onboarding experience that champions Black talent.” While the memo did not go into much detail regarding how exactly it will do this, it did say it will “scale and aggregate current and new partnerships across historically Black colleges, local community schools and specific organizations.”
  5. Creating a Diversity Progress Council comprised of employees, key clients, and academic and youth representatives, set to convene in September
  6. Launching an “open apprenticeship” for minority youth on Marcel, its AI-driven connectivity platform introduced in the U.S. earlier this year, with how-to guides, online lessons, live workshops, networking, mentoring and gig opportunities. In its first year, it will target 1,000 young people in the U.K. and the U.S., with a commitment to hiring 50 people each year.
  7. Building a “culture of strong ally-ship” by making all employees partake in bias training, which consists of three tracks: Understanding Everyday Bias, Inclusive Leadership from Any Seat, and Bystander Intervention Training. It will be available to all agencies by January 2021.