Interpublic Group

Company: Interpublic Group
Diversity Team Name: Global DEI Group
Diversity Team Leader(s): Heide Gardner

What Makes this Diversity Team Stand Out

Interpublic Group (IPG) is a global network of marketing communications and services agencies. For many years, we have been recognized for specific programs and received credentialing from organizations such as Diversity Best Practices, American Advertising Federation, Diversity Journal, (Global Innovation finalist), LinkedIn, Women in Communications (UK), Bloomberg Gender Equality Index, and Human Rights Campaign.

The Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Group (DEI Group) earned IPG its reputation as a leader in the ad industry, and for being ahead of the curve on the complex issues of race and intersectionality—our CEO first engaged directly with employees on racial equity in 2015. Despite its record of accomplishment, the team has never been singled out for recognition and has bypassed awards submissions for the past few years to focus inward.

During 2020, the team guided our global and U.S. CEOs, who were expected to maintain progress with key metrics regardless of business headwinds. Decision-making checklists were created to ensure furloughs and layoffs did not have unintended consequences for Black talent. Mentored by our chief diversity and inclusion officer (CDIO), CEOs had confidential safe spaces to process events with their peers and one-on-one private coaching sessions with her.

People of color, nontraditional families, LGBTQ+ employees, people with disabilities, and others had unmet needs from the many generic resources that circulated to address COVID-19 issues of engagement, virtual work, and well-being. IPG’s DEI group worked to fill those critical gaps. Our DEI Group curated resource hubs and designed bespoke tool kits and learning experiences on topics such as inclusive meetings, subtle acts of exclusion, micro-aggressions, the increase in intimate partner violence, mental health, and other issues that focused on marginalized, underrepresented, or at-risk groups. A new internal website,, was opened to the public, expanding their impact beyond IPG. The team also recognized the need and made available culturally competent clinicians and support for more diverse range of families as they tried to manage flexibility, child and elder care.

In addition to its COVID-19-related DEI strategy, the team maintained a normal cadence of newsletters, communications, corporate events, and business resource group (BRG) coordination and support. The team programmed or coordinated more than 50 individual webinars, live streams, and initiatives on top of its day-to-day role in overseeing data, analytics, compliance, and IPG’s annual Climate for Inclusion survey. The team also took on the preparation, moderation, and policy follow up for 17 listening sessions for thousands of employees in the United States, the UK, and Canada.

IPG adopted the team’s recommendations for a Juneteenth holiday, making bail payments for employees unfairly arrested while protesting, and a formal election day off. Throughout 2020, IPG’s CEO and COO ensured DEI themes were included in all weekly communications and town halls tied to navigating COVID-19. Another transformative measure proposed by the department and adopted by leadership was full disclosure of our EEO-1 report data by race/ethnicity, gender, and level. IPG became the first industry holding company to do so, causing a ripple effect throughout the ad industry.