- Both the Wall Street Journal and Ad Age are reporting that newly-appointed J. Walter Thompson CEO Tamara Ingram has formed a diversity committee at the ad agency.
- The move comes on the heels of her predecessor, Gustavo Martinez, being forced out after the firm was sued for sexual and racial discrimination.
- That lawsuit led to public spat between WPP (J. Walter Thompson’s parent company) CEO Martin Sorrell and the head of Publicis, Maurice Levy, on the prevalence of these types of discrimination in the advertising industry.
The committee will be headed by Ingram. According to the Wall Street Journal, she said in a video provided to JWT employees, “We fundamentally believe that diversity and inclusion is essential if we are going to deliver the extraordinary work that we need to do, to transform and grow our clients’ business.”
According to Ad Age, JWT is also partnering with inQUEST for an independent internal review of the agency’s policies, procedures and practices. Another aspect of the plan is a “talk-to-me” hotline for employees who are upset or concerned about issues at the firm.
The lawsuit naming JWT and Martinez was something of black eye and a wakeup call for an industry that is still seen through the lens of the "Mad Men" account of advertising a generation ago. This committee is a step forward for the ad community toward creating an inclusive and diverse environment.