Publicis Groupe Commits €45M to Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice

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Publicis will introduce apprenticeship programmes, subsided accommodation, new diversity and inclusion role and diversity progress council with Lord Woolley
Publicis Groupe Commits €45M to Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice

Publicis Groupe UK today published its ‘Embrace Change’ actions to promote diversity within the Groupe and its agencies, and across the advertising industry.

The plan is designed to attract more people from diverse backgrounds into the industry, remove barriers to entry and create a culture that supports people from under-represented groups as they progress through the workforce and into leadership roles.

The programme is the result of a day of talks, workshops and planning that took place at Publicis Groupe UK on 17th June, and has involved more than 1,800 people from around the business.

The actions cover new policies, procedures, programmes and metrics that will together drive change.  The commitments outlined to employees today cover systemic changes, which will create the infrastructure needed to actively advance racial equality in Publicis Groupe UK and the industry. These are:

  • Capturing ethnicity data starting today (2nd July) and following up with actions to increase ethnic minority talent across the business, particularly in leadership positions.

  • Creating a new role for a diversity and inclusion specialist at Publicis Groupe UK, open for applications today. This will be supported by diversity and inclusion champions within every agency.

  • Becoming a signatory of the Business in the Community Race at Work Charter.

  • Creating a Publicis Groupe UK Charter that sets out the behaviours that are the company expects of employees, suppliers, partners and clients. The charter will be included in contracts from 2021.


As well as these pledges, Publicis Groupe UK is creating a Diversity Progress Council, which will provide external input and help the company make and track progress against its commitments. Lord Woolley, founder and director of Operation Black Vote and chair of the advisory group for the Government’s Race Disparity Unit, will join The Diversity Progress Council.

In addition to these systemic changes, Publicis Groupe UK outlined a series of programmes firstly to inspire, then to enable and ultimately to progress diverse talent through the business.  These include:

  • The ‘open apprenticeship’ programme reaching young people from ethnic minority and disadvantaged backgrounds, with 10 new job offers every year.

  • Subsidised accommodation to make living and working in London more affordable for apprentices from lower income backgrounds.

  • A new reverse mentoring programme, building on existing schemes within the business.

  • A full review of recruitment processes and partners, with inclusion front of mind.

  • A comprehensive new training programme with external partners including Brixton Finishing School, Creative Equals, D&I Leaders and Bloom Training & Development.

  • Creating a group of ‘safe people’ who are available to provide advice and lend support, and an ongoing series of ‘safe space’ events.


Publicis Groupe UK will track its progress on meeting its commitments by capturing ethnicity data, and through annual workplace surveys that ask employees how likely they are to recommend Publicis Groupe UK as a place to work to someone of their own race.

Annette King, Publicis Groupe UK CEO, said: “This is a decisive moment as we all ask ourselves what we can do to drive the change that is so long overdue. As an industry and as a business, we need to do better to represent people from all social and ethnic backgrounds.  We started by listening and better educating ourselves, and we will continue to listen and learn. The plan we’ve set out today to inspire, enable and progress talent through our business will help us address the disparities that have always existed in our industry. I’m positive about what we can achieve with our creativity, tenacity and influence.” 

Jo Hippolyte, a spokesperson for the EMBRACE Group at Publicis Groupe UK, said: “Through Q&As and workshops, we’ve partnered with colleagues from right across the business to help everyone better understand the reality for black employees.  What we’ve shared with our colleagues today is the programme we’ve co-created with their input.  I believe the actions we’ve set out are both meaningful and sustainable.” 

The plan has been led by a core team reporting to Annette King. The core team comprises the ComEx working group on race and the EMBRACE Group, which represents Black, Asian, and minority ethnic employees at Publicis Groupe UK. The working group members are Paula Cunnington, chief talent officer, Magnus Djaba, CEO of the creative practice and Saatchi & Saatchi globally, Chris McCafferty, CEO of the influence practice, MSL and Salter Baxter, and Nancy Rowe, senior manager, inclusion & diversity at Publicis Sapient. The business resource group, Embrace, is led by Esther Akingbade, senior associate in benefits, Akil Henry, lead analyst at Starcom, Jo Hippolyte, experience lead at Publicis Sapient, and Sam Hutchinson, learning and development coordinator.

Publicis Groupe has committed €45 million to its action to promote diversity over the next three years. In North America, Publicis Groupe is also today (1st July) announcing its actions to combat racism.


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