With the raised consciousness around systemic racism in the US and the low representation of diverse talent in the advertising industry, Havas was the first holding company to unveil its ambitious plan to support, invest in, and grow its Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) talent. To develop the North America-focused plan, we assessed our business from end-to-end and had conversations with advocacy groups, industry leaders, as well as many of our BIPOC employees.
Our Commit to Change plan outlines seven initiatives specific to our BIPOC employees and how our business operates, as well as both long-term and short-term plans aimed at improving our representation. The plan has comprehensive education and awareness for employees at all levels—with senior leaders participating in the most sessions. Other areas of focus include: providing more industry access to those in career transitions, veterans, and high school graduates; committing a significant percentage of internship opportunities to diverse talent; and focusing on leadership development and mentorship opportunities for BIPOC talent.
Since publicly announcing the plan in July 2020, we have already made progress on many of the commitments, with more programming and initiatives to launch this year. In August, Havas launched our inaugural North America Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Committee. The nine-member committee comprised of senior leaders from the Media, Creative, and Health networks representing the Black, Asian, Hispanic, and LGBTQ+ communities, oversees NA DE&I strategy and initiatives that will drive impact and change in a cohesive approach across the region, as well as ensures that the commitments in the NA Commit to Change plan are met.
Havas is also reengineering systems such as recruiting and talent assessment. Claire Telling was hired as Chief People Officer for Havas Creative North America and is in the process of implementing a strategy focused on improving the quality and diversity of candidates while also centralising our recruiting resources to better optimise them. Regarding talent assessment, a new process has been launched that specifically focuses on diverse talent and their advancement in the organisation.
Education is a crucial component in fostering a more inclusive workplace. The first tier of Education & Awareness was launched with several thousand employees across all three business networks in NA completing the first phase of our mandatory education courses—courses focused on managing bias and inclusion in the workplace. Tier 2 was designed for senior managers, team leaders, and executives. To date we have had 900+ leaders go through live Becoming an anti-racist manager training.
Havas has launched a new manager development programme, Havas Emerge, as well as announced our Fellows for the 4A’s Vanguard programme—two initiatives that invest in our diverse talent and will help them become stronger and better leaders. Emerge is a 9-month, 3-module learning & development programme designed to accelerate the early careers of Asian, Black, Hispanic, Indigenous, and other non-white ethnicities—with the goal to increase representation in management roles across Havas’ North American agencies. The inaugural class is comprised of 20 leaders from all three Havas Group networks.
Recently, Havas launched a meaningful mentorship programme aimed at supporting our progress in the Accelerating Careers pillar of our plan. Havas Connect is designed to connect diverse employees and foster a culture of support and continued learning. This programme will address the common roadblocks to successful mentoring through a mix of individual and group meetings as well as supplemental learning, allowing our diverse candidates to receive a personalised and extensive mentoring experience.