From Listening to Action
The following is a memo sent from Ogilvy USA Leadership to all USA staff on June 18, 2020.
Together, as a collective Ogilvy community, we must own the shared responsibility of fighting inequality and racial injustice in all its forms, everywhere it exists. That responsibility starts today with holding ourselves accountable and recognizing anti-racism as a business imperative.
After over a decade of diversity and inclusion efforts at Ogilvy we have not seen nearly enough progress in increasing representation and leadership of Black employees throughout the company. We have failed our Diversity & Inclusion teams by our lack of allyship. Creating a more inclusive Ogilvy is not owned by D&I or HR, but by all USA leaders. Our Black colleagues have not seen themselves reflected in the leadership of the company—a reality that has unquestionably resulted in Ogilvy losing immensely talented people and business. We will no longer accept this reality.
As a mostly White leadership team, we will add diverse voices at the table, not just as token representatives, but as meaningful contributors with a voice and a vote. Together, we will create equitable and fair solutions that represent a culture we collectively value. We cannot just be allies, but accomplices in achieving the change we need to see—and we will invite our underrepresented colleagues to direct us until its done.
While discussion is important and serves as a catalyst and educational foundation for those who have not experienced racial injustices, it will be the coming r/evolution that will allow us to either drive positive progress or watch our company cease to exist.
We owe a debt of gratitude to our Black colleagues who have shared their stories of racism, both personal and professional, over the past two weeks while also leading trainings, discussions, and helping to draft new policies. Thank you for being brave every day since the moment you stepped foot into Ogilvy as a person of color. It is now time for all of us to be brave, by moving to action that will allow us to become the Ogilvy we need to be – an anti-racist Ogilvy. A trusted organization for BIPOC communities where the system exists not just for some people, but for everyone.
To start, Ogilvy is joining WPP in committing to the 12 actions outlined in this open letter from Black advertising professionals. Our approach to executing those actions will include the creation of a formal Ogilvy Advisory Council of BIPOC representation to provide inputs around action plans and initiatives, as well as, hold leadership accountable for demonstrating progress. The Advisory Council will partner with Donna Pedro, Worldwide Diversity & Inclusion Officer and the WPP culture team led by Judy Jackson, to help direct our progress in five core areas:
1. Representation and Retention: We must address the lack of representation of BIPOC talent at all levels of our company and ensure retention strategies are in place to develop the talent we have and those who join us. Ogilvy must also utilize its unique position as a recognizable agency brand to attract more underrepresented talent into the industry. Our initial actions in this area will include:
- Providing more transparency into our workforce diversity and our goals for increasing BIPOC representation at all levels of the company; initial information will be shared location-by-location before July 31. The Ogilvy Advisory Council will maintain on-going access to data and a formal progress report will be issued company-wide in June 2021.
- Committing to having at least two BIPOC leaders on local leadership teams and increasing representation among client-facing departments and client service leadership by January 2021.
- Participating in industry-wide benchmarking initiatives like EEOC to help drive awareness and change across the industry.
- We will work to help increase the visibility of BIPOC talent at all events and conferences. Effective immediately, Ogilvy will not sponsor conferences or approve requests for talent to sit on panels that do not reflect racial diversity.
- Effective immediately, no external hires will be made without BIPOC representation in the candidate slate. The Ogilvy Advisory Council will review recruiting processes and make recommendations on other career development programs to help Ogilvy retain BIPOC talent. This group will also explore ways we can recruit talent from more diverse backgrounds and educational paths into the agency.
- We will formalize and prioritize a USA-wide sponsorship program for BIPOC employees in 2020. These colleagues need and deserve sponsorship across all levels, from the minute they start at Ogilvy. Leaders asked to be Sponsors will complete anti-racism training by 8/31.
2. Community: Ogilvy has always had a strong foundation of community outreach through David Ogilvy’s Chairmanship of the United Negro College Fund and through to our own Ogilvy Foundation. We must foster a culture of belonging within Ogilvy and develop stronger bonds with organizations that serve underrepresented communities. Our initial actions in this area will include:
- Ogilvy USA will annually recognize Juneteenth as an official company holiday, commemorating the day in 1865 when the last enslaved people were emancipated.
- Ogilvy USA will match employee donations this year, up to $1,000 per employee, to a group of over 25 organizations to support those who are already playing an important role in the fight against racial injustice and inequality.
- Employees will now be granted 21 hours (or the equivalent of 3 days) of paid community service time to support community organizations and initiatives that serve BIPOC communities; more details to be shared in the coming weeks.
- Increasing investment in our professional networks across the USA through more cross-chapter collaboration as well as ensuring each network has an active, engaged executive sponsor to provide a voice with leadership.
- The creation of a virtual employee forum led and curated by Kai D. Wright, where our employees can hold conversations about race as well as submit and vote on ideas and policies relative to the entire organization that will allow everyone to be heard with a transparent feedback loop as ideas get ranked. We are looking into making this WPP-wide.
- Continuing to support our existing industry partners who serve diverse communities such as the 4A’s MAIP program, the AAF Mosaic program, ADCOLOR's Futures, and the newly launched 600 & Rising.
- Encouraging employees to be civically engaged. This includes supporting those who decide to peacefully protest as well as encouraging all employees to exercise their right to vote.
3. Training: We must continue to learn and educate ourselves, especially as it relates to increasing our understanding about race and inequality. We need to de-bias our company culture and re-prioritize empathy. Our initial actions in this area will include:
- Auditing performance review processes and ensuring there is 360 feedback captured before an employee exits.
- Creating one written “value-system” for Ogilvy that balance what Ogilvy wants “great creative work” with the will of the employees & cities “strong values that come through in the work & environment”
- Committing to have all USA employees complete anti-racism and unconscious bias training by the end of 2020, beginning with HR employees and all USA managers.
- Rolling out a new microaggressions training program for our employees and our clients in 2021.
- Reviewing all management training programs with an Ogilvy Advisory Council to ensure anti-racism and inclusive leadership modules are included by implementing things like a nomination and standardized selection process.
4. Clients & Work: We must ensure our clients, current and prospective, share our commitment to inclusivity and diversity in the work we develop on their behalf and conduct themselves in a way that reflects our values. Our initial actions in this area will include:
- Ogilvy USA leadership will be directed by an Ogilvy Advisory Council to develop a Client Code of Conduct to ensure clients adhere to Ogilvy's anti-racism personnel policies and share our commitment to inclusivity and diversity in the work we develop on their behalf. We will hold our clients accountable for the Code of Conduct and expect any unjust or racist behavior to be investigated and dealt with accordingly – up to and including terminating engagements.
- Through a culture of empathy for all, we will empower our employees, whether subjected to or bystanders of, racial bias behavior or discrimination to speak up as close as possible to when the acts are witnessed, with a guarantee of job protection
- We will extend our client code of conduct to vendors, suppliers, and partners as well as create a new benchmark for increasing our support of minority-owned and run vendors and suppliers.
- Ogilvy USA will commit resources to working with the National Urban League on specific small businesses that would benefit from the broader marketing support that Ogilvy can provide.
5. Leadership Accountability: Our leadership needs to build a culture of safety, openness and socially conscious behavior. We will model the behavior we expect to see across the entire organization. We commit to not only being allies, but accomplices in driving change. Our initial actions in this area will include:
- Moving forward, compensation and incentive programs for USA leadership will be tied to delivering on Ogilvy’s diversity and inclusion commitments as stated in the Representation and Retention area. These will be official KPIs for our leaders.
- Every USA location leader will be given qualitative performance reviews directed by the Ogilvy Advisory Council to measure progress, by individual, from allyship to accompliceship.
- We will commit to investigating and removing leaders who exhibit racist mindsets, practices and behaviors.
It’s time for a r/evolution. We are dedicated to learning what true commitment to an anti-racist Ogilvy will take. We know building trust will be based on our actions.
We will update all of you as often as necessary on our progress.
The USA Leadership Team
In addition, Ogilvy’s Diversity & Inclusion leaders assembled a list of anti-racism resources for Ogilvy employees and the agency’s partners, which can be found here.