Speaking at a panel session at Cannes hosted by Edelman, which has been working with the technology giant since last September, HP chief comms officer Karen Kahn said: "The numbers are all moving in the right direction."
PRWeek reported last year that HP asked all its agencies, including then-incumbent PR firms FleishmanHillard and Porter Novelli, and advertising shops such as BBDO, Fred & Farid, and Gyro, to increase the number of women and people of colour in leadership positions.
Kahn said today: "In the legal world, we did the same thing, but instead of being a carrot, it's also a stick - that if you don't increase your numbers, we reduce your fees by 10 per cent."
Asked if HP plans similar action against PR and ad agencies, she stated: "We haven't cut the fees yet. It’s a one-year score card. We'll let you know at the end of the year - it's going to be the end of October."
She added: "Driving change is hard. The legal world, the marketing and communications world; these are industries that have not changed in many, many years. So sometimes the only thing you can do if the carrot doesn’t work... is to know there's a stick that’s at the ready."
Kahn said agencies have responded positively to the challenge - she was "bracing for impact but we didn’t really get it".
"One of the agencies said: 'I wish you asked us to do this 10 years ago, we would look very different'."