Is Proctor & Gamble hiding its head under its messaging?
As You Sow, an NGO founded on the premise of holding corporations accountable for environmental and social behavior, takes awareness to a new level by harnessing shareholder power to create lasting change that benefits people, planet, and profit.
According to founder, Andrew Behar, shareholder actions press corporations to undertake this broader risk analysis and make decisions that benefit people, planet, and profit over the long term. With the events culminating in the death of George Floyd that have brought cause to power through Black Lives Matter, corporate responsibility for social equity and equal rights within the workplace has taken on a rallying cry. But, how many companies in your 401K or portfolio have social policies that you’re aware of?
Robert Xavier Snaer-Williams, a college senior who worked on the research underlying As You Sow’s Workplace Diversity Scorecard is someone who was particularly moved by a company’s social policy. In a blog post for As You Sow, he wrote about Proctor & Gamble’s messaging in the spring of 2020: “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. P&G’s short film ‘The Choice’ shows the words ‘Not being racist is not enough. Now is the time to be anti-racist,’ and ‘Words and feelings are not enough. Now is the time to take action.”
Snaer-Williams continued, “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.”
However, when Snaer-Williams learned that P&G declined to share diversity and inclusion data on its own workplace, he said, “It felt as if my favorite superhero turned out to be a villain.” When the company released its EEO-1 Form, which shows workforce composition data, it continued to decline to share key inclusion statistics such as recruitment, retention, and promotion rates.
In the proxy statement, P&G sought to reassure investors of a strong and effective workplace diversity program. With a strong diversity program in place, a company’s lack of transparency — not the numbers themselves — are what represent an unnecessary business risk.
In declining to share its workplace inclusion data, P&G undermines significant advertising efforts. Capturing diverse consumers is a focus of P&G’s growth strategy. If P&G were able to replicate its general-market performance with diverse consumers, in the words of Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard: “The size of the prize is big — up to $1 billion in extra sales just by achieving market shares equal to the national average on all of our brands.”
Given its reliance on diverse consumers, P&G needs to be more transparent, more honest, and more committed than other companies. Yet, it is lagging. As are 80% of companies on the S&P 100 Index.
Research from As You Sow.org shows, as it relates to gender, approximately 15% of the S&P100 publish promotion data, 20% show recruitment data, and 11% share retention data.
Snaer-Williams concludes that the request for P&G’s workforce inclusion metrics is a reasonable ask for material data from a company that has presented itself as a leader on diversity issues. It is both confusing and worrying that it is unwilling to release this information.
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