Porter Novelli launches Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion advisory service

Conroy Boxhill and Sandy Skees are co-leading the formalization of the agency’s DEI work.

L-R: JEDI co-leaders Skees and Boxhill.
L-R: JEDI co-leaders Skees and Boxhill.

NEW YORK: Porter Novelli has launched a Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion advisory service. 

Conroy Boxhill, MD of the Omnicom Group firm’s Atlanta office, will lead the initiative alongside San Francisco-based EVP Sandy Skees. Both will serve as co-chairs of JEDI. 

The agency did not say how many staffers will be assigned to the offering, but Skees said she is planning to hire employees with DEI experience. Current staffers doing related work on sustainability or environmental, social and governance will do more JEDI work, she said. 

JEDI will support clients in DEI assessment, benchmarking, training and strategy development, the creation of social justice programs and reputation management. The agency will work with organizations on four areas: equity in corporate policies, recruitment, supplier diversity and leadership; workforce recruiting and development; equity and inclusion issues affecting products, marketing and communications; and how to champion diversity of ideas, people and partners.

Porter has provided these services under its general offering for years, but presenting them in a formalized manner will draw attention to how the agency combines traditional comms functions with consulting expertise in areas like compliance and human resources.

“It’s a systems approach, both integrated and intersectional,” Skees explained. “What we do is different than at any other PR agency. We think of ourselves as a consultancy and a comms firm. We do the technical consulting work assessing clients’ general realities, and not just comms but actual policies, programs and implementations that address systemic problems and also the comms programs that sit alongside them.”

“To formally announce this is also a signal to our clients that not only are we doing this work for them and we are prepared to do it for other clients, it puts a stake in the marketplace that we have this capacity,” Boxhill added. 

Omnicom Public Relations Group, of which the agency is a part, named longtime Porter executive Soon Mee Kim as its first chief DEI officer in September 2020. She was most recently Porter’s EVP and global DEI leader.

Porter’s revenue dropped 4% to $145 million in 2019, according to PRWeek’s Agency Business Report 2020. Omnicom’s PR firms, which include FleishmanHillard, Ketchum, Mercury and Cone, posted an organic revenue decrease of 3.4% in Q3 2020 to $322.8 million.

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