HP debuts its newest diversity video, admits it has 'room for improvement'

Be the first to comment

The brand's Chief Diversity Officer Lesley Slaton Brown talks about the company's hiring initiatives and its latest spot targeting women.

HP continues to market itself as a company where talent is its only hiring criteria with a new spot debuting today, titled "Dads and Daughters." In it, real-life fathers and daughters read female-focused interview advice that’s largely negative, like "don’t wear too much perfume," "avoid dressing too much like a woman" and "don’t be aggressive."

The nearly three-minute ad is a continuation of the "Reinvent Mindsets" diversity campaign launched in April from agency Fred & Farid. The first spot, "Let’s Get In Touch," focused on African-Americans and cited that "when qualified for a job, African-Americans are three times more likely to experience a denial."

The latest commercial is directed by Jillian Martin, who is part of Alma Har’el’s Free the Bid, an initiative that challenges both agencies and brands to include at least one female director on triple bids, to which HP has donated $100,000. While the latest commercial doesn’t point to statistics, it does reveal actual interview tips found online. HP said the advice was gathered from news outlets like Cosmopolitan, FOX and The New Yorker. 

To combat unconscious interview bias, HP is releasing this video through paid social media and other digital platforms. Campaign US spoke with the brand’s Chief Diversity Officer Lesley Slaton Brown to discuss why diversity has become one of HP’s top priorities.

Why did you decide to focus on women in this spot?

HP does business in 170 countries globally. We look at our different sites and say, "Okay, we need to balance our workforce." For example, in Palo Alto, Asian is not underrepresented. In Boise, Idaho and Corvallis, Oregon, it is. And again, because we want to diversify our workforce, we look at those different sites.

So, when HP formed, when it split in November of 2015, we developed the most diverse board of directors in corporate American technology. To build from that, we increased our women in technical roles, executive technical roles by 4 percent. And the next level for us was women in technology, and so that is a focus, that is a primary segment or audience that we wish to increase within HP.

But your 14 C-suite executives consist of three women and no African-Americans, nor Asians. Would you say there's room for improvement?

Oh, of course. I think absolutely there's room for improvement. We started with our board of directors and just as you mentioned, we still need to do work at the L1—our senior most business leaders. Still, we represent over seven different countries within that leadership team.

But, more importantly, we also formed another layer with our global diversity advisory board, which consists of 17 people. The reason we did that is because we want to fill where we have gaps with senior leaders, influencers that are doing the work, that are making a difference, and that get it, so to speak. We have a reverse mentoring program that we do with our board of directors and our L1 leaders. That is representative of African-American, Asian, every region, every business.

That said, Cathie Lesjak as CFO, Tracy Keogh, head of HR, Kim Rivera, Latina, head of general counsel and head of legal—the representation of those leaders cannot go unnoticed and dismissed. They are leading industry change. And, of course, Antonio Lucio with Free the Bid.

Cathie is taking her role to a whole other level as well by holding our consultants to that same level of accountability and making sure that they're representative of women and minorities in the highest level positions as well. If it hadn't been for Tracy—guess what—none of this would've started as far as our board of directors.

And so, it's more than just about the numbers. It is about the standard. That's the work that this group of leaders is doing.

"Dads and Daughters" is the second part of your "Reinventing Mindsets" campaign. Will we see future spots centered on other minorities?

You're going to see a lot more. This just isn't about eliminating bias in recruiting or recruiting more talented women. It's just the start. The work that we're doing, it is pervasive. When I agreed to lead this effort, I said, "First and foremost, we have to debunk the myth that diversity and inclusion is the responsibility of HR." Nor is the culture HR's responsibility. It is about everybody being inclusive.

As you know, from a global perspective, diversity and inclusion means different things to different regions. In China, we're dealing with people with disabilities, and other places, we've got women in executive positions. Within the U.S., we look at veterans, we look at, as I said, technical women. That's the focus within the U.S. People with disabilities as well.

Have you personally experienced unconscious bias when you were interviewing for jobs?

I have as an African-American woman. And it's funny because a name makes a difference, right? So, my former name was Lesley McNorton, and what I found was that with my resumes, if I used my name, Lesley McNorton, they automatically thought I was white, because of the "Mc."

There were honestly times where I made sure that I didn't put the organizations that I'm invested in as a minority because I saw the rejects. If you become real and unmask yourself, what you get and how soon the interest you get based off of your name and not exposing that you're a part of these different organizations—"minority  organizations"—versus doing that, there's definitely a difference there. So, absolutely I have faced that.

With HP, it was a little different because one, HP's culture, our heritage. And two, when I came to work for HP, I was actually working as a community volunteer as a co-chair for a particular organization and the woman that I was co-chairing with had just gotten a promotion at HP where she was starting her own organization. She was a Caucasian woman, and she said, "We work well together. I'm starting this new business, and I'd love for you to come work for me."

It's funny that time comes full circle, talk about talent being the only criteria, right? That's because that's true to HP's legacy and so, have I had that happen to me? Absolutely. Absolutely.