Scene from "Mad Men"/AMC
Major companies are increasingly pushing for greater representation of women and minorities at the agencies they hire to produce their advertising. Digiday’s Shereen Pathak first picked up on this trend last December, when PepsiCo executive Brad Jakeman scolded agencies at the Association of National Advertisers’ annual meeting for their lack of diversity, saying: “I am sick and tired as a client of sitting in agency meetings with a whole bunch of white straight males talking to me about how we are going to sell our brands that are bought 85 percent by women.”
Recently, we’ve seen other examples of executives putting the same sort of pressure on their advertising partners. Quartz’s Ashley Rodriguez takes note of one example at HP:
Last week, Hewlett-Packard’s chief marketer Antonio Lucio sent a letter to Hewlett-Packard’s US advertising agencies asking them to ensure that at least half of the top marketing roles on its account are held by women, which is the current gender makeup of Hewlett-Packard’s own internal marketing team. Lucio asked the agencies to submit formal plans for increasing the number of women in key creative and strategy roles within 30 days, and to make good on those plans over the next 12 months. If the agencies don’t comply, “we will re-evaluate our relationship and we won’t hesitate to make a change if it’s needed,” a spokesman for the company said.
The White House is piloting an initiative to allow US employers and training programs to partner with universities to teach students marketable skills, and allow students to receive federal financial aid for such programs, the Atlantic’s Mikhail Zinshteyn explains:
Educational Quality through Innovation Partnerships (EQUIP), as the program is being called, is starting small: Just eight colleges and their non-academic collaborators will take part in the experiment and will educate up to 1,500 students. The program is also not ready to run immediately: The accreditors of the colleges and universities need to approve their plans, meaning they won’t debut until fall or spring of the upcoming school year.
Still, the effort may shed new light on how watchdogs can hold colleges accountable for the workforce success of their students. Unlike current evaluations that measure how well colleges educate their students, EQUIP will measure programs by the jobs students receive and their earnings. Administration officials are framing the trial program as a new tool to address the growing gap in educational attainment and wages in the U.S.
However, Shahien Nasiripour at Bloomberg hears from some experts who question whether the initiative will work:
In a recent feature at the Atlantic, Elizabeth Preston looks at some of the programs employers and nonprofits have embarked on to help adults with autism spectrum disorders land and hold down jobs:
Learning to handle an interview is only the first step for people with autism looking for work. Often, they have no college degree, and if they do have experience, it may be from several jobs that didn’t last long. When at work, they may struggle with anxiety, have trouble communicating with their managers or estrange coworkers with their behaviors. In the United States, only 55 percent of adults with autism had worked at any point during the six years after high school graduation, according to a 2012 study. By contrast, 74 percent of young adults with intellectual disability had some work experience. (Although people with autism can face difficulties finding work at any age, studies and interventions tend to focus on those transitioning out of high school or college.)
“These kids nowadays in this program, they’re very lucky,” says Michelle Canazaro, who has autism and works part-time as an office assistant at the Dan Marino Foundation. “They get to have the technology that I didn’t.” Canazaro worked at a retail warehouse after high school and vocational school. But she hated the job, and eventually was let go. She interviewed for other jobs but didn’t get anywhere. Other candidates had more experience. She remembers wearing “a nice pink top with a pair of black dress pants” to a retail interview where she ended up having to sit on the floor. “They said I was a little overdressed,” she says. “Well, I didn’t know.” …
The Chicago Tribune’s Corilyn Shropshire recently highlighted an “amenities arms race” in the second city’s commercial real estate market, where older buildings are trying to bulk up their perks to attract occupants:
A few years ago, a gym and a rooftop deck were all a building needed for a quick makeover and subsequent lift in occupancy and leasing rates. These days, the tenant wars are a bit more intense: A spiffed-up lobby, a tricked-out tenant lounge and a bike storage facility are must-haves for buildings aiming to lure more tenants and higher rents. A golf simulator might make a previously forgettable office building — yes, office building — really stand out.
Those stodgy, “Mad Men”-style traditional office buildings are being transformed into funky, hip workspaces that younger people want to work in, a trend that is driving up office rents in the Chicago market. …
“Amenities have always been a big deal in commercial office buildings, but now, taking amenities to a new level seems to be the trend,” said Greg Prather, senior vice president at JLL, who helps 601W turn onetime stodgy office buildings into places where hip, young professionals will want to work. “Stodgy old buildings are trying to reinvent themselves as hip work environments because they have to compete,” he said.
The interesting question—which employers should consider before spending that extra buck on an office with a golf simulator—is whether these perks really meet employees’ needs in such a way as to attract and retain top talent. A “fun” office might help dazzle new recruits, but in the long term, job satisfaction, engagement, and retention are driven by things like compensation, work-life balance, and opportunities for advancement. Organizations that spring for the snazziest office but don’t treat employees well or have supportive work cultures will soon find that perks alone do not a talent magnet make.
In a recent op-ed for Fortune, creative director Dawn Bovasso argues that corporate expense policies are implicitly biased against working mothers:
At most companies (and everywhere else I’ve worked), non-household expenses such as hotel stays, meals, transportation, and even laundry are reimbursable; expenses for maintaining your home while you are traveling or working (e.g. babysitting, cat sitting) are not. I have never been able to understand the difference between these groupings. If I incur an expense because I am doing something above and beyond for my company, shouldn’t my company pay for that expense? Does it matter if that expense happens inside my apartment or not?
Household expenses are not covered because expense policies (and IRS codes) are still biased toward men. Most of these policies were created when men were traveling, and women were home taking care of the kids.
When the male leaders of this world travel, there is an embedded assumption that they have women at home maintaining the hearth, cooking their meals, taking care of their children, feeding their dogs, watering their plants. They do not need to pay for these services, because it is built in as part of the traditional family unit. They don’t need to pay for babysitting, though they do need drinks and they definitely cannot do their own laundry. You can get $30 for takeout if you work late (because your wife isn’t there to cook you dinner) or $30 for scotch if you want to drink your face off, but you can’t get $30 for a sitter (because your wife is at home with the kids). …
During the normal workweek, I pay for 55 hours a week in daycare—55 hours per week at a cost of $3,100 a month. I invest my part, as staggering as it feels, because this is my responsibility as a full-time employee, just as it is my responsibility to get myself to work and buy my lunch every day. But when I am on the road or working above and beyond, these necessities become my employer’s responsibility. Why is childcare different? Because it’s a woman’s problem.
Dawn paints an extreme picture, but there is data to show that it is more difficult for women with children to travel for work than it is for childless adults and men. A survey of postdoctoral fellows in science at the University of California, Berkeley in 2000, found that 45 percent of married women with children reported that they hadn’t presented research at national conferences the previous year, compared to 24 percent of all other postdocs. Bovasso’s article got us thinking about the several directions from which organizations might approach this issue:
The July-August issue of the Harvard Business Review focuses entirely on diversity and inclusion, provocatively stating on its cover that most D&I programs don’t work. The editors are not suggesting here that diversity is not a critical topic for organizations to address, but rather that the most common D&I approaches and perceptions of what works need to be re-evaluated. For me and my colleagues on the CEB Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council research team, this set of articles is an important contribution to the business-driven conversation about D&I in which we help executives participate as researchers and advisors to chief diversity officers and other leaders. We’d absolutely recommend that you read the issue in full, but here are the top lessons we took away:
Days after causing an uproar with his comments that the debate over gender equality in advertising is “over” and that the reason there are so few women in leadership positions in the industry is that women don’t aspire to hold those positions, Saatchi & Saatchi executive chairman Kevin Roberts has decided to retire early and leave his position next month. Roberts’s resignation won’t do much to level the playing field for women in advertising, but in the mind of Digiday’s Shareen Pathak, the controversy he courted has opened up an opportunity to advance the very same conversation he called finished:
[H]ere’s the thing about the Roberts scandal: Depending on how it’s framed, one can actually make the case that the gender debate is, in fact, “over.” Agencies have implemented checks and balances; there are diversity officers; there are quotas. Real sexism is harder to spot than ever — as one agency employee said, “no one’s patting your ass any more” — but it’s still endemic. …
“There are elements of [Roberts’] comment that are true,” said Lisa Leone, a freelance creative director. Leone points to the 3% Conference, which began as a response to the surprising statistic that only 3 percent of creative directors in the industry are female. Today, that number is 11 percent. So on some level, Roberts may have been right that the “debate” — as far as how the numbers are trending — is over. But is 11 percent good enough? “We’re not there yet, but we’ve made strides,” said Leone. …