Kim Hunter, CEO of Lagrant Communications, has a simple mission: “To increase the number of African-Americans, Hispanics, Latinx, Asian and Pacific Islanders and Native Americans in the field of advertising, PR and marketing.”
September 1 marked 30 years since Hunter set up Lagrant, his first company. The milestone is a testament to his ability to manage the ups and downs with aplomb while advocating for the Hispanic, African-American and LGBTQIA+ consumer markets through a tremendous scholarship program.
“Over the course of 22 years, we have awarded more than $2.7 million and 726 scholarships,” says Hunter. “Many of those recipients have gone on to rise through the top of the industry.”
But agency life, says Hunter, is very different to the client side: “As somebody who’s worked in both, a lot of people of color who enter agencies find them to be unwelcoming, non-inclusive environments.”
Hunter has multiple clients who have retained him to help them find mid-senior level ethnically diverse talent.
One of the most revealing comments from a candidate he put forward was: “I’m no longer interested in being an experiment for these agencies. Either they get on board and stop hiring the one-off and hire in critical mass, or I’m pivoting to the client side where I see more people of color.”
Hunter believes “all of the top 10 [firms] have great intentions and are good people,” and he points out that they’ve done a decent job recruiting and developing diverse staffers, but he questions why they’re unable to retain them.
“They need to answer that question,” says Hunter. “Many people I interact with on the agency side have probably never had a Kim Hunter in their home or sitting across from them at the breakfast table. So why would I expect them to have a Kim Hunter at the table reporting to a CEO when they don’t have him in their personal lives?”
Hunter reflects on all of this and more in Coffee Break, a weekly 15-minute intermission in your working day to discover more about PR pros occupying interesting roles across the industry, live each Wednesday morning by 11 a.m. ET.