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Publicis cracks the formula of pay parity; celebration stuns ad world

Last week, April 17, 2019 to be precise, saw social media splashed with images of the senior leadership at Publicis Communications India and Publicis Media India cross-dressing. The photographs took social media and the advertising world by storm. The campaign – #AllEqual – was created by Leo Burnett India.

This is what Publicis India posted on Twitter: “Publicis Communications India & Publicis Media India are proud certified equal pay organisations and we are committed to building a strong, inclusive and diverse workforce with equal opportunities for all.”

The campaign was as much to mark KPMG certifying Publicis India as gender equal as it was to highlight the gender pay gap that still persists in the industry.

Read more: Publicis Communication & Publicis Media adjudged gender equal by KPMG

It may be noted here, that globally, Publicis Groupe has Égalité (French for Equality), an employee network for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) professionals and allies.

In India, Publicis has been a late entrant in the advertising industry, competing with giants such as WPP owned JWT and Ogilvy and IPG owned Lowe Lintas. The company’s strength has been its strong creative push.

A little over 3 years ago, the French ad network understood that it must become more performance-oriented, with an increased focus on data-led creative enabled by technology. It identified three key KPIs that helped it measure outcome metrics for the work being put out by their creative talent. It built its entire business building around these core principles and hired talent on the basis of it as well.

Now, on the back of a very successful 2018, where the agency went into more than 100 pitch meetings and won half of them, the top leaders at the company sought to understand what had been successful in their new approach to advertising and whether to refine it further. They brought in management consultancy KPMG as the third-party expert to conduct an assessment of the organisational capabilities across the agency’s offices in India.

It wasn’t an easy task and took a fair amount of time, but when the results came after 3 months, there was reason to celebrate. The company had scored extremely high on pay parity between male and female executives, an unexpected outcome of its performance-based appraisal of employees. The company didn’t punish employees who didn’t put in ‘enough’ hours or didn’t take all their vacation time. In fact, it was company policy that all executives must utilise 100 per cent of their vacation time off!

Diversity and inclusivity have become a common buzzword in advertising boardrooms across the globe, but Publicis is walking the talk with their boardroom. Across Publicis Worldwide, Publicis Media, Leo Burnett, L&K Saatchi & Saatchi, Zenith Optimedia, Digitas, Indigo Consulting, MSL India, Arc Worldwide and Prodigious, 5 out of 10 of those organisations are headed by senior women executives. Many of these women are Publicis loyalists, who have remained with the agency since the beginning of its journey in India.

However, in a country where gender parity is at 24 per cent and male-dominated industries such as advertising are plagued with #MeToo outbreaks every once in a while, we should remember the hard stance the agency took against Ishrath Nawaz, who had joined Publicis from McCann in April last year and was immediately sacked once allegations of harassment at the workplace arose against him.

Meanwhile, there is more success planned in the future of the advertising giant. Sources have confirmed that the agency has already begun pitching aggressively at the beginning of 2019 and already has several pitch meetings arranged. The company is focused on building a strong business ecosystem on the back of their strong work culture.

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