Omnicom Group’s (OMG) US-based Democratic PR and advertising agency GMMB has been accused of microaggressions and racism by people of colour who have worked there.
Business Insider spoke with 27 current and former employees, 16 of whom identify as people of color, with roles ranging from junior to senior positions.
GMMB is owned by FleishmanHillard, which is an OMG agency with three offices and 220 staff across San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC.
Many of the people Business Insider spoke to said they enjoyed their time at GMMB, others have called out racist behaviour from senior leaders of the business.
A current employee and person of colour said they’d only has a positive experience at GMMB, noting its move to name its first black partner.
“I don’t believe GMMB is immune to systemic racism, but recognizing that alone is an important step to being on the right path forward,” the person told Business Insider.
However, many current and former employees had less praise for GMMB, suggesting the agency suffers from “systemic” racism which often manifested in microaggressions.
Some of the sources who spoke to Business Insider said senior executive rarely asked BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of colour) employees to contribute to account strategy while also receive extra scrutiny in the workplace.
“They were called out on minute things that seemingly the white employees would get passes on such as email etiquette,” a former white employee said of BIPOC employees. “They were dissected at a granular level that was insulting.”
GMMB issued a statement to Business Insider following the allegations.
“We are outraged by the false allegations being made about us and reported without regard to facts or the truth. Microaggressions are a terrible problem nationwide, including in the workplace. Last year, we engaged a diversity and inclusion expert to ensure that everyone on our staff is properly trained regarding this and all equity issues. We take complaints by our employees very seriously, and are fully committed to investigate and act on all allegations – racial or otherwise – that are brought to our attention.”
These racism allegations follow the recently fired Red Bull executives after an offensive and racist internal marketing presentation was leaked to media.
According to reports, CEO of Red Bull’s North American operations Stefan Kozak and CMO Amy Taylor have both been given their marching orders.
The sackings come after slides from an internal marketing presentation were leaked to media that, among other things, described India as “call centres,” the Middle East as “evil-doers” with an arrow indicating “bombs go here,” and Africa as “zoo animals come from here”, while China has “they make our stuff”.
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