HP’s CMO Antonio Lucio, who is well known for pushing the envelope when it comes to industry diversity, hosted a panel discussion at Cannes on Tuesday on the business case for diversity. He was joined by actress Thandie Newton, British Vogue’s editor-in-chief Edward Enninful and chief diversity officer at Omnicom and Founder & President of Adcolor Tiffany Warren.
Lucio shared HP’s story of diversity as an impressive case study for other businesses with solid results to back it up.
“We fundamentally believe that in order to change our industry, we’re going to need holistic and systemic change.
“This means that the clients need to have a diverse perspective as they write the wonderful… sometimes wonderful, briefs. The agencies need to have a diverse perspective because they come up with the ideas. The production companies need a diverse perspective because they bring those ideas to life.
“If you don’t have that point of view throughout the totality of the system, it’s going to be very difficult to have a final product that really delivers.
“Then finally, you want to have the metrics that tells you that everything that you’re doing is correct.
“Over this last two years, from a client perspective as HP, we went from 20% of my leadership team being female to 50% of our senior leadership being female. Capability was a given. This was not making seats for the sake of making seats. The 50% of the women who work for me are kick-ass marketers.
“From an agency side, we said to our agencies that we specifically wanted Heads of Creative and Heads of Strategy that represent the communities that we serve. We went from 0 Heads of Creative and Strategy working on our account (there’s about 1200 people working on our account globally) to 52% in 12 months.
“On production houses, we signed the Free the Bid project. I’m embarrassed to say that when we started, there were no projects done by female directors working on the HP account. Today, 18 months later, of the 53 global campaigns that we ran, 53 were shot by female directors.
“Holistic and systemic change. Does this work?
“Our brand preference score around the globe has grown by 26%. Our revenue per impression has grown by 33%. Our overall business is growing at 14% which is significantly higher than the aggregate of all consumer goods together.
“So diversity works. Diversity moves the business needle. It’s hard work but my invitation to the industry is ‘Let’s do it together.’”
Antonio asked each of the panellists to share one thing we can all do.
Tiffany Warren, chief diversity officer at Omnicom and Founder & President of Adcolor, advised “Approach diversity with humility and an open mindedness you never had before. We can’t rely on our leaders in government. Corporate America is the one place that can get it right.”
Editor-in-chief of British Vogue Edward Enninful, caused a stir earlier in the year by putting a black model, Aboah Adwoa, on the cover of the very first issue that he edited. Enninful encouraged the audience to “reach out to someone outside your circle, hear what they have to say. You might be surprised. Let’s not box ourselves in.”
Thandie Newton offered words of encouragement to those who may be marginalised.
“There’s a pattern that I’ve experienced in my life. The very worst times (a number of those times have been around misogyny or racism), when I’ve overcome those things psychologically and emotionally, very soon afterwards the most extraordinary things happen because I’ve grown in breadth and spirit.
“Running away from difficulty makes you afraid, boxes you in and stops you from seeing the world. Because you’re terrified. Stepping out of that has made me stronger. Comfort doesn’t teach you. Discomfort is what opens you up and gives you breadth.
“We live in the world but the world also lives in us as individuals. We can either be open to that, rise to that challenge or be made small. Don’t live small.
“Realise that comfort doesn’t teach you and that discomfort helps you grow and each of us can make a difference.”