Digiday’s Grace Caffyn shines a light on a noteworthy trend among advertising agencies in the UK, several of which have recently opened up their recruiting to candidates without university degrees, in response to the growing cost of higher education and the industry’s lack of diversity:
In January, Dentsu Aegis Network, JWT and CHI & Partners all welcomed their first non-degree candidates. Rather than looking at grades or job history, both JWT and CHI & Partners now review how candidates answer four questions (like, “Tell us about one brand that you think badly needs our help and why”) to gauge their understanding of the industry. Teams then select new starters from an interview day involving 50 candidates. These candidates do not necessarily need a degree beyond secondary school.
“We felt we were missing out on good people because of that qualification,” explained Fern Nott, head of talent at WPP agency CHI & Partners. “You don’t need a degree to be a good fit for advertising.”
In the past year, we’ve been hearing more and more about “returnships”: programs similar to internships for mid-career professionals looking to re-enter the workforce after taking extended career breaks to raise children or care for sick or elderly relatives. While the concept of the returnship is not new, today’s tight talent market has sparked renewed interest in it. Because the vast majority of employees who fit that description are women, returnships have been held up as a way to fill gaps in critical talent segments like tech by reaching out to an oft-neglected cohort, and Silicon Valley employers have been working with dedicated organizations like iRelaunch and Path Forward to bring more mid-career women back in the door. These programs are showing mixed results so far, though it is early days yet and the talent shortage they are meant to address is unlikely to abate anytime soon.
Now, Digiday’s Tanya Dua reports, ad agencies are also beginning to embrace returnships as a partial solution to their industry’s talent and diversity challenges. Advertising is particularly in need of such programs, Dua writes, as “the very nature of the agency business makes it hard for people with résumé gaps to make a return”:
The rapidly evolving state of modern media, marketing and technology makes it harder for returnees to play catch-up. Accompanying that struggle is the assumption that such returnees will not be able to put in as many hours and deal with the unpredictable nature of client demands.
Across the last 12 to 18 months, we have observed on an ongoing trend of HR as PR. The premise of this concept is that in addition to promoting their HR strategies with the goal of attracting and retaining the best quality employees, some companies are taking that a step further to make the case that because they treat their employees so well, you should become their customer. This is the PR part of the play.
One example of HR as PR is the trend of companies—most recently American Express—adopting more generous parental leave policies to present a more caring, family-friendly image to both employees and consumers. Another great example is the 30-second TV spot above, one of a series Lyft just released in which they satirize their leading competitor, Uber, as a diabolical entity called “Ridecorp” whose executives mock Lyft for allowing customers to tip their drivers through the Lyft app.
What’s clever about these ads is that they serve as both a recruiting pitch to drivers and a sales pitch to riders at the same time.
First, the ad points out that by being a driver for Lyft, you get tips and can earn more money, the implication being that they are a better employer (the HR part). Customers, meanwhile, receive message is that riding with Lyft is better than Uber because Lyft cares more about their drivers and lets them take tips (the PR part). It’s a message we’ve seen other rideshare startups embrace as a key component of their brand.
This is a smart strategy on Lyft’s part, and as Insight founder Justin Bariso observes at Inc, it appears to be working, as Lyft’s ads have gotten a lot more attention than Uber’s latest ad:
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.
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. …
Saatchi & Saatchi executive chairman Kevin Roberts is in trouble after telling Business Insider in an interview that he thinks 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’s ambition “is not a vertical ambition, it’s this intrinsic, circular ambition to be happy.” Publicis Groupe, the Paris-based holding company that owns Saatchi & Saatchi, has forced Roberts to take a leave of absence while its supervisory board decides on his future with the company, Shereen Pathak reports at Digiday:
Publicis CEO Maurice Levy sent an internal memo to employees to “reiterate the Groupe’s no-tolerance policy toward behavior or commentary counter to the spirit of Publicis Groupe and its celebration of difference.” Roberts is a high-ranking Publicis official, serving on its top executive management unit. … After he made the comments, industry activist Cindy Gallop, who was accused by Roberts of fueling the issue just to raise her profile, asked the industry to tweet what they thought at Roberts. Plenty did, including Pepsi exec Brad Jakeman and Taco Bell CMO Marisa Thalberg. …
Sources said that Publicis Communications CEO Arthur Sadoun also sent a memo to employees following Roberts’ comments that said, in part, that he found Roberts’ remarks offensive and that this behavior was not acceptable within the Groupe. “I am sorry that the comments made by Kevin have reflected poorly upon the Groupe and our culture,” he wrote.
The agency itself has quickly moved to condemn the executive chairman’s remarks, Stephen Lepitak adds at the Drum, putting out a statement from its CEO to defend his agency’s approach to diversity and gender equality, while acknowledging that the industry still has a lot of work to do in that department:
HSBC in London (Chris WarhamShutterstock.com)
While the overall economic impact has been decidedly negative, the Brexit is expected to have a variety of effects, making its mark on various sectors to different degrees and hurting (or helping) some firms more than others. One of the biggest victims is the financial sector, for which London serves as a global capital. Reuters‘ Olivia Oran, Anjuli Davies and John O’Donnell look into how banks are responding to the vote:
Bank executives have been making contingency plans for months, but many were still surprised by the outcome of a British vote on Thursday evening to leave the European Union (EU). Even with those plans, huge uncertainties remain about when Britain will formally exit the EU, and what cities could replace London as New York’s transatlantic counterpart. … Among the questions being asked in C-suites across Wall Street: What’s the best European city to house a broker-dealer, if not London? Does Frankfurt have the capacity to house tens of thousands of bankers and their families? Will language be an issue in cities where English is not the primary tongue? Will American bankers abroad be able to find schools for their kids?
Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam and Dublin are all in contention for relocation. Even with all that uncertainty – and a timetable of at least two years for Britain to formally exit the EU – U.S. banks appeared to be moving quickly to respond to the Brexit decision. JPMorgan Chase & Co is considering changes to its legal entity structure in Europe, as well as moving some of its 16,000 U.K.-based employees, according to a staff memo signed by Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon and other senior executives.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc has been planning for the possibility of a Brexit vote for “many months,” Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein said in a memo. The bank has been building a new European headquarters in London, and is now considering what to do with all the space, a source familiar with the matter said.
For a fuller picture of how banks are responding, Portia Crowe at Business Insider has compiled a helpful roundup of the memos major finance CEOs sent to their employees in the wake of the Brexit referendum. Stephen Gandel at Fortune counts how many jobs Brexit might cost the City of London: