October EC Communications Briefing – “Drive For Diversity”
Advertising Week just finished in NYC and one of the major topics on the minds of top 100 global advertisers was the need for a “Drive For Diversity” among the advertising agencies serving these same clients. We encourage you to read the article below from Ed Baum, a new Managing Director in our firm, who summarizes the comments from several CMOs regarding the diversity issue.
I was interviewed recently by Ken Kraetzer, Executive Director – Sons of the American Legion Radio and VP at Harrison NY-based CBSI Services, regarding EC’s perspective on how diversity recruitment needs to include veterans of the armed services. In our video interview, which will be posted by Ken shortly on YouTube, we indicated that our firm has a track record of placing senior level marketing and marketing services executives with undergraduate degrees from the U.S. Military Academy, U. S. Naval Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy, Reserve Officers, ROTC graduate officers, NCOs, and other armed services veterans, with 5+ years of military service experience as an officer.
What we have found, over a 20+ year period, is many West Point and Naval Academy graduates develop extraordinary leadership, adaptability, and tenacity skills over the first 5 years after college graduation through their military service as officers in the armed forces. In effect, many are given significantly larger management and leadership roles and responsibilities (in terms of both people leadership and P&L/budgets) than their counterparts on the commercial side during the first 5 years of their careers.
We are not saying or suggesting these distinguishing traits (leadership, adaptability, and tenacity) are found in every military graduate or armed service veteran. However, we have found these distinguishing core competencies in several candidates with this profile type, which have enabled these candidates to transition rapidly and successfully onto the commercial side and move on a fast-track to C-level roles including CEO, CMO, Chief Analytics and Chief Digital Officer roles, among others.
In this rapidly changing marketing era, technical and functional marketing skills are essential. However, the technical and marketing skills are the basic pre-requisite skills for being hired. Especially in large, multi-national companies, the qualities of leadership (establishing a vision/mission, creating strategies/action plans, and building/developing/motivating teams), adaptability (flexibility to adjust to unexpected circumstances/events, operate in ambiguity), and tenacity (the passion to “take the hill” and persevere until the mission is achieved) are what separates extraordinary from ordinary leaders.
So if your “Drive for Diversity” does not currently include hiring veterans with undergraduate degrees from a military academy, plus 5+ years of military service in one of the armed forces, your company is missing one of the best sources of future leaders with fast-track growth potential.
As always, we welcome your comments and questions.
Jeff Gundersen, CEO
“Drive For Diversity”
by Ed Baum, Managing Director at Executive Connections LLC
The advertising industry’s diversity gap has taken on bottom-line implications for leading agencies. In the last few months several major brands have started to demand explicit recruiting strategies and other action plans on the part of agencies to address the problem. The implication is clear: If changes aren’t forthcoming, their business will be pulled.
Heavyweight marketers including Verizon, General Mills and HP Inc., formerly a part of Hewlett-Packard, are making diversity hiring at their creative agencies a central issue because they are concerned that the absence of women and minorities across agency roles and leadership positions may be hurting the brands’ efforts to connect with consumers.
“Marketers are expected to have a deep understanding and insight about their markets, about decision makers and about customers,” Diego Scotti, Verizon CMO, said in a letter sent to 11 agencies in mid-September, according to a report in The New York Times. The letter continued, “We are more likely to create solutions that amaze our customers if our work force and suppliers represent the communities we serve.”
Over the summer, General Mills included in its creative agency brief the goal that 50 percent of the creative departments at agencies it would work with be staffed by women and 20 percent by minorities. Speaking at a recent industry gathering hosted by the 4As, Michael Fanuele, the chief creative officer of General Mills, explained his company’s drive for diversity this way: “You don’t need to be a mom to make some Cheerios ads, but if we have more moms on the team making Cheerios ads, maybe we increase the probability we do work that connects with moms in a richer, deeper, more powerful, meaningful way.”
The agencies’ stance on diversity reflects what The Times called “a growing concern among marketers that Madison Avenue’s largely white, male leadership may be hindering their efforts to connect with American consumers.”
As pressure from leadings brands’ grows on agencies’ diversity practices, the sense of urgency on the part of agency business and talent acquisition leaders is also expected to increase. “Nothing will drive intent faster than a client’s dollar,” Nancy Hill, president and chief executive of the 4As, was quoted as saying in The Times story.
Executive Connections can be a talent acquisition resource for marketing services firms who are committed to diversity recruitment. As evidence of our expertise in this area, we have successfully completed a wide range of diversity placements including Managing Director positions at the largest global digital agency and consulting company, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer of a global life insurance company, Chief Analytics Officer at a global human resources consulting firm, and SVP/Internet and Mobile Banking at a financial services company.
To discuss how we can help you meet your diversity recruiting goals, contact Jeff Gundersen , CEO/Founder of Executive Connections, at firstname.lastname@example.org.