BERKELEY, CALIF.—Last week, Procter & Gamble shareholders sent a resounding message with a 37 percent vote supporting an As You Sow shareholder resolution calling for diversity disclosure. Investors are asking Procter & Gamble for goals, metrics, and trends related to its promotion, recruitment, and retention of protected classes of employees. Shareholders want Procter & Gamble to show that its internal practices match its extensive advertising campaign focused on race relations in America.
“Today’s vote shows shareholders want more data from P&G,” said Meredith Benton, Workplace Equity Program Manager for As You Sow and Principal at the consultancy Whistle Stop Capital. “A company with a strong diversity, equity and inclusion program, as P&G has sought to reassure investors it has, should be eager to share data showing the effectiveness of its programs. Leadership on diversity is a competitive advantage—and in P&G’s case, also a commitment it has made to its consumers.”
Investors are concerned Procter & Gamble risks being seen as exploitive if it continues to advertise themes of gender and race without providing detailed data on its own internal diversity. The company currently does not provide information linked to promotion, recruitment, or retention rates of these employees.
Large Ad Budget
As part of the company’s $7.33 billion annual advertising budget, Procter & Gamble has built a race-focused campaign releasing several short films, including “The Talk” (showing the unique conversations Black parents need to have with their children), “The Look” (depicting the subtle ways in which a Black man experiences bias throughout the day), “Circumstances” (detailing the higher death rate of African Americans from COVID-19), and “The Choice” (asking how Black Americans should respond to incidents indicating their lives do not matter). “The Choice” shows the words, “Not being racist is not enough. Now is the time to be anti-racist,” juxtaposed over a close-up of female Caucasian cheek bone. The text continues, “Words and feelings are not enough. Now is the time to take action.”
“As a 21-year-old Black man, I am also a member of one of the segmented audiences that Procter & Gamble is hoping to reach through its racial justice focused marketing,” said Robert Xavier Snaer-Williams, who today presented the shareholder resolution on behalf of As You Sow at the P&G annual general meeting. “The content I had seen from P&G on being Black in America resonated with me. It felt like P&G was an allied brand, one that truly understood the Black experience and was seeking to change racial discrimination and injustice. When I learned that P&G declined to share diversity and inclusion data on its own workplace, I felt let down and hurt. It was like my favorite superhero turning out to be a villain.”
Procter & Gamble sits in contrast to other companies where As You Sow has made similar requests, including Gilead, JPMorgan Chase, Mastercard, MetLife, Morgan Stanley, and Oracle. These companies have all agreed to meaningful increases in their diversity reporting.
“How do words become actions?,” asked Andrew Behar, As You Sow CEO. “We engage many companies that say the right words about their diversity programs however, we do not know what actions are actually being taken. In today’s climate of racial justice awareness, it’s time for P&G to show the world that they are leading by example.”