Arun Sudhaman 05 Aug 2020 // 4:45AM GMT
NEW YORK — Edelman and sister agency Zeno have both revealed their diversity data, amid widespread pressure on PR firms to improve diversity and address racial inequity.
Like Weber Shandwick, the first of the big firms to publish its data, Edelman's racial diversity worsens as you ascend its leadership ranks. 26.6% of its US workforce is non-white, but only 12% of its current executive leadership. At an SVP/VP level, Edelman's workforce is 82% white, a proportion that drops to 67% for workers at the lower 'professional' levels.
Blacks account for 9.1%, 4.6% and 3.1% of the professional, SVP/VP and executive leadership levels, respectively. Asians hold 8.7%, 6% and 6% of those jobs. Hispanic/LatinX account for 10.8%, 4.8% and 1.7%, respectively.
An Edelman spokesperson noted that the firm's overall diversity had improved from 24% in 2018. The world's largest PR firm has pledged to reach 30% by 2022.
"While we have made some progress, we must go further faster and that means more deeply embedding diversity, equity and inclusion into every area of our business and evolve our strategy," reads an Edelman statement on the issue, pointing to the commitments that CEO Richard Edelman recently made to address these issues, which have been the subject of calls for change from a range of organizations and pressure groups in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Edelman's commitments include increasing diversity, equity and inclusion investments; establishing KPIs for leadership to increase diversity and inclusion across all lines of business; increasing the firm's pipeline of diverse talent; and, developing a sponsorship program to ensure the growth and development of current diverse talent.
"We are committed to meaningful change and we will not stop until we transform our agency and our industry," adds the statement.
Edelman also revealed that it has reached pay parity across race and gender, following a third-party audit. In the US, Black, Hispanic/LatinX and Asian employees earn $1 for every $1 earned by their white employees in equivalent jobs. The same is true of the firm's female employees, when compared to their male counterparts in equivalent jobs.
At Zeno, meanwhile, CEO Barby Siegel has also committed to a range of actions on hiring, training and partnerships — after admitting that she had "learned a great deal about racism in America and the role of white privilege", since May. "While my learning continues, I am committed to using my position and authority to drive change in partnership with my colleagues at Zeno and beyond," added Siegel.
Zeno is currently 86% white in the US, along with 4% Black, 10.4% Hispanic, 7.5% Asian, 1.3% Islander and 1% multiple races. Of note, Siegel said that the firm will incorporate D&I policies into its consumer influencer selection process, including a new proprietary 'inclusivity + values score' as well as a commitment to supply clients with a 1:1 ratio of BIPOC to white creators for general market campaigns.
The data from the sister firms comes amid the larger industry’s continued reticence to go public with similar numbers. In particular, almost all of the biggest firms have yet to reveal diversity metrics, while several have stopped short of setting specific hiring and personnel targets.
A number of independent agencies have released their diversity numbers, including W2O (15% non-white at board level, 20% overall), Finn Partners (21% non-white overall), Praytell (40% non-white), and Ruder Finn (27.9% non-white).
Many of the bigger firms, though, have chosen to cite holding company statistics rather than their own agency data. And while several have committed to addressing systemic racism and inequality, often backed by financial commitments, the calls for change continue unabated — from organizations such as The Blueprint , 600 & Rising and Hold the PRess.
The employee-led Hold the PRess movement, for instance, is lobbying the PR industry to come clean by providing their numbers of Black employees, including executives; accounts that are Black-owned businesses; and diversity and inclusion action plans.