Arthur Sadoun outlines Publicis' plan to fight racism

Sadoun: 'We are all Americans'
Sadoun: 'We are all Americans'

CEO dedicates day to tackling industry-wide racial inequality.

Arthur Sadoun, Publicis Groupe chairman and chief executive, has declared that "we are all Americans" in a video addressed to staff in light of civil rest in the US following the death of George Floyd.

While he said he appreciates that "nothing will truly alleviate" the sadness caused by racial inequality, Sadoun maintained that Publicis Groupe is dedicated to opening a dialogue on "how and why this racism against black people has gone unchecked as long as it has".

Highlighting that the message was important for all Publicis staff "in every market", Sadoun declared: "In this moment of great trauma and unrest, I believe we are all Americans."

He added: "We need a fresh start. We need to imagine, design and execute new ways for Publicis to fight racism and provide more opportunities for the black community inside our company."

Noting his "limited perspective as a white CEO sitting in Paris", he called upon both black and white employees to help him "make right what has been so wrong for so long".

Sadoun outlined four fundamental questions that the business needs to address to tackle racial inequality. This includes exploring how best to provide more opportunities for black people in agencies and brands, how to "foster a culture of growth and progress" to create more black leaders, how to ensure white colleagues contribute to the success of black employees, and how to support all minorities around the world.

To properly address these concerns, Publicis is dedicating next Friday (17 June) as a day to "listen, debate and ideate new ways to tackle those four fundamental questions".

Sadoun claimed that the best ideas and solutions from this session will be "refined, implemented and measured".

"This is going to be a very big day for Publicis Groupe in the US and we all must be prepared," he said. "We all know that actions are louder than words, but actions mean nothing if they don't have a real and long-term impact, and this is very hard."

This comes alongside a day off work for US employees to "reflect, to reset and to heal", to be taken before next Friday.

To facilitate employees in understanding "the black experience in America", Publicis will be providing free resources to staff, as well as reimbursing any resources purchased.

"I know this is a difficult time for all of us," Sadoun remarked. "For me personally, the pandemic and the isolations were tough but manageable. This social crisis is the toughest because it is the one we are most responsible for.

"We see this moment clearly and we will not squander it. Together with all of you, we will do the right thing in our company, today and for the year to come."

During last week's virtual festival Campaign Connect, Sadoun revealed that he is "extremely worried for the world in many areas" as protests calling for black equality continue across the globe.

Publicis UK chief executive Annette King is also among a list of advertising and media leaders who have issued an open letter calling on the industry to take action against racism.

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