Omnicom shows ‘small uptick’ in US workforce diversity by end of 2020

The holding company has pledged to publish staff diversity reports every six months.

Omnicom DEI lead Emily Graham.
Omnicom DEI lead Emily Graham.

NEW YORK: Omnicom’s breakdown of its U.S. workforce shows a slight uptick in diversity as of the end of last year, according to an internal memo obtained by Campaign and PRWeek US. 

The memo shows U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) data as of December 31, 2020, six months after Omnicom shared its June data. Broken into the three categories of executive managers, mid-managers and professionals, the numbers show some progress in the Black, Hispanic, Asian and white demographics, with an added column reflecting women. 

Omnicom's PR firms include FleishmanHillard, Ketchum and Marina Maher Communications. 

Compared to June 2020 data, the percentage of Black employees increased by 0.4% at the executive manager level, 0.1% at the mid-manager level and 0.1% at the professional level by December 2020, while Asian employees at Omnicom U.S. increased 0.5%, 0.1% and 0.1%, respectively. The percentage of Hispanic employees increased slightly at the executive level, 0.1%, but remained the same at the mid-manager and professional levels. The December data also showed the percentage of women who work at Omnicom in the U.S., with 49.7% at the executive level, 59.9% as mid-managers and 59.7% at the professional level. 

“It's a small uptick, but I'm very curious to see six more months, which will be a full year of benchmarking from last year's EEOC data,” said Emily Graham, chief equity and impact officer at Omnicom.

While the EEOC data does not reflect other identifying categories such as sexual orientation or disability, Graham added the company will add options through which employees can share that information if they choose. 

The data comes shortly after the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, which sparked protests and calls-to-action around the globe. One year later, holding companies have begun to disclose updated diversity data. 

Publicis’ diversity statistics, released last Tuesday, showed a similar increase between June 2020 and May 2021, with the percentage of Black employees increasing from 5.4% to 5.9%; Asian staffers rising from 15.1% to 15.4%; Hispanic staffers climbing from 8.1% to 8.3%; and Native American employees remaining the same at .4%. Overall, Publicis’ diversity numbers increased 5% at entry level, 8% at mid-level and 5% at the senior level for an average 5.5% increase year over year. 

Omnicom’s disclosure is consistent with its six-month benchmark pledge. 

“There's a culture of transparency and accountability that we want to create at Omnicom and we don't want to make it a dirty word,” Graham said. “It's something our employees deserve. It's something our clients are asking us about. And the truth is there's nothing to hide. If we want to be partners in progress, we can't do it on our own.” 

In June 2020, Omnicom launched an eight-part plan called Open 2.0 meant to guide its diversity framework. The Open leadership team doubled in 2020 to include 26 individuals dedicated full-time to diversity efforts, and the team has established a system to directly work with HR on hiring practices. 

Omnicom is also launching employee resource groups. In addition to Open Pride and OmniWomen, Omnicom has introduced Black Together, Asian Leader Circle, Accento, the parent company’s Hispanic employee resource group, and Open Disability. 

While the company’s talent advancement program is “in development,” Graham said it hopes to leverage the Omnicom agency network and its ERGs to help employees have mobility across agencies if they choose to change jobs, which is a vehicle for retention. 

Omnicom will continue to publish semiannual progress reports to investors, clients and its employees, according to Graham, and will require unconscious bias training globally for all employees. 

While each of Omnicom’s agencies across the PR, advertising and media landscape has its own KPIs to measure diversity, Omnicom has also created its own KPI that agencies will be responsible for at the holding company level and will have to report quarterly. Benchmarks include hiring, advancement promotion, retention, training and employee resource groups.

“The worst thing [that can happen] is that people feel like we are done because we've done things,” Graham said. “But when we set a goal at Omnicom, we want to meet it and go higher. We have a high ambition to achieve systemic equity. It's a big audacious goal, and we know it, but that was purposeful so that people never feel like the work is done.”

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