Publicis Groupe names Geraldine White as chief diversity officer

The holding company also said its U.S. employee diversity percentage increased to 32.7%.

NEW YORK: Publicis Groupe U.S. has promoted Geraldine White to chief diversity officer. 

She is reporting to Anne-Gabrielle Heilbronner, member of the directoire and secretary general, with additional reporting lines to Andrew Swinand, CEO of Publicis Creative and Leo Burnett Group and U.S. executive sponsor for DEI.

White has worked at the holding company for 13 years, most recently as Publicis Sapient’s head of diversity and inclusion in North America, where she launched and led the organization’s business resource groups in the region. She also led its global Black talent taskforce, designed to advance equity.

White replaced Ronnie Dickerson Stewart, who in February became Zoom’s first DEI marketplace and community lead.

White’s focus on improving DEI policies and practices for employees will mean building on the company’s diversity efforts. Publicis released workforce statistics this week and reviewed its DEI progress. Gathered from more than 21,000 U.S. employees, the data shows 32.7% diversity of employees, representing a 5.5% increase compared to last year.

The company reported increases in the diversity of employees throughout career stages: 5% at entry-level, 8% at mid-level, and 5% at the senior level. 

Drilling down into the employment figures at the senior level, comparing June 2020 to May 2021, Black employees increased from 1.9% to 2.4%; Native American staffers dipped from .3% to .2%; Asian employees fell from 10.7% to 10.6%; Hispanic staff rose from 4.5% to 4.6%; and white employees declined from 81.8% to 80.8%.

Reviewing all positions during the same time period: Black employees increased from 5.4% to 5.9%; Native Americans remained the same at .4%; Asian staffers experienced an uptick from 15.1% to 15.4%; Hispanic staffers rose from 8.1% to 8.3%; and white employees decreased from 69.1% to 67.3%.

Arthur Sadoun, CEO of Publicis Groupe, said in a statement that a year after the holding company published its diversity data, it had made some progress.

“But we are very aware that we have a long road ahead of us,” he said. “When it comes to our Black and Hispanic talent in particular, we are still far from representing the full diversity of the U.S. population.”

He said that since January, Publicis re-started a hiring program and has seen 39.5% more Black employees joining Publicis in the U.S. compared to those who have left. He commented the same is true to a lesser extent with Hispanic talent. 

Sadoun pledged, “We will be relentless in pushing even further, and faster, to build truly diverse teams across the U.S.” 

Publicis announced seven action steps last summer. The commitments included publishing and monitoring its own data; cultivating the careers of Black talent; recruiting, interviewing and onboarding to support Black talent; building a culture of allyship; investing in diversity; launching an open internship on its A.I. platform Marcel; and creating a diversity progress council.

In March, Publicis held a two-day Black talent summit, focused on professional development, educational and career opportunities. Two months earlier, the company created inclusive hiring training, required for employees involved in the interview process. More than 10,000 U.S. employees have completed the program. Publicis has also committed to investing €45 million toward DEI initiatives and social justice over the next three years. 

Headquartered in Paris, Publicis Groupe, whose primary PR network in the U.S. is MSL, reported 2.8% organic growth in Q1, as North America bounced back to 4.7% organic growth.

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