industry update

Dismantling Racism: Our Progress

February 11, 2021


After our nation’s collective reckoning with racial justice in summer 2020, Heartbeat made a commitment.

We acknowledged that it is our shared responsibility to dismantle racism at Heartbeat. Since August 2020, when we published our commitment letter, we have been working diligently to implement the changes specified therein.

Here’s what we accomplished through the end of 2020 and what we’re still striving for.


We’ve continued to outpace industry averages for our BIPOC staff.

New Hires
We are happy to report that, between August 2020 and end of year (EOY) 2020, diverse* populations made up 51% of new hires, surpassing 2019 (45%) and 2018 (46%).

Between August and EOY 2020, 57% of all promotions went to diverse Heartbeaters; in 2020 overall, 55% of promotions went to diverse team members. More specifically, nearly a quarter of all 2020 promotions went to Black/African American Heartbeaters, with another 19% going to Hispanic/Latinx Heartbeaters and 13% going to Asian/AAPI Heartbeaters.

36% of roles at the director level and above were filled by diverse Heartbeaters as of EOY 2020.


We continue to work toward our goal of creating an agency as diverse as the city many Heartbeaters call home: New York. Here’s our progress…

We also continue to pursue more diverse representation among leadership roles and are investing in career advancement and mentorship for all our diverse Heartbeaters.


Here’s how each part of our action plan has played out since August.

1. WE’RE GETTING EVERYONE INVOLVED. Our collective agency commitment to diversity & inclusion is communicated on day 1, with new-hire onboarding featuring our efforts and requesting new Heartbeaters to join us in the fight. We also offer a concrete way to heighten that commitment through our newly established Dismantle Racism (DR) action team—made up of Heartbeaters passionate about antiracist work. Heartbeat has given space, funding, and time to the DR team to turn ideas into action, including working with vendors to offer sessions on fighting racism in the office and on wellness, resiliency, and healing for BIPOC. DR team members have also personally facilitated multiple “Brave Space” forums for open discussions of racial issues, among their many other initiatives. As part of our continuing effort to uplift the diversity of our staff, Heartbeat celebrated the creation of two new affinity groups, Asiancy and Latidores. We heralded an incredible Black History Month (BHM) 2020 with 4 full weeks of programming by our Meet All the Black People affinity group, and we look forward to this February’s BHM events; our affinity groups plan on leading more heritage events throughout the year, including our first-ever Lunar New Year celebration hosted by Asiancy.

2. WE’RE DEVELOPING RACIALLY DIVERSE TALENT. We’ve increased our resource allocation for diverse Heartbeaters’ development, and we’re already seeing the benefits of this strategy—57% of all promotions in the latter half of 2020 went to diverse candidates. Heartbeat had diverse participants in the 4A’s Vanguard Program, the Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit, the AdColor Conference, the 3% Conference, and various Publicis Groupe management & mentorship programs. Each diverse Heartbeater was counseled one-on-one to explore training and mentorship opportunities, leading to multiple community members pursuing various certifications and continuing education programs. Additionally, several BIPOC Heartbeaters have been paired with senior agency mentors as a part of this training & support expansion.

3. WE’RE FOCUSING ON RACIALLY DIVERSE RECRUITMENT. Heartbeat is leveraging Black talent platforms, fostering deeper relationships with HBCUs and Black student unions, and sourcing from programs like MAIP and Year Up. Heartbeat brought on two Year Up interns in 2020, and one of our fall interns was accepted to MAIP 2021. We plan on adding more talent from these programs in 2021. Additionally, we’ve drastically expanded our sourcing efforts, adding roughly 30 new platforms for diverse talent that have already resulted in multiple hires. We’ve also made a significant effort to boost our referral program and publicize our openings more widely, encouraging Heartbeaters to tell their peers and openly share all career opportunities. Finally, as part of a larger effort within Publicis Groupe, all team members involved in the hiring process are now required to complete training in anti-bias interviewing and techniques to identify trainable, high-potential people with unique backgrounds instead of prioritizing more easily identifiable, expected profiles of advertising industry candidates, who tend to be woefully diverse.

4. WE’RE ELEVATING OUR EFFORTS EXTERNALLY. We’ve prioritized amplifying inclusive causes in our public-facing communications, celebrating differences, extolling the benefits of diversity, and giving space in our social media and website to coverage of timely antiracist issues. We plan on continuing to speak out whenever necessary, drawing attention to news and knowledge that impacts our community. Heartbeat’s leaders have also consistently used press opportunities and publishing spotlights to explore our industry’s areas for D&I improvement, to push for progress, and to propose necessary changes—we have no plans to stop or deviate from this strategy.

5. WE’RE EXTENDING OUR OUTREACH. Through our Worldbeat program, we’ve raised funds for local and national organizations that uplift BIPOC and work for racial justice, as well as groups supporting LGBTQIA+ initiatives. We’re happy to have given funds and/or volunteer time to The Black Women’s Health Imperative, Make the Road New York, the ACLU, Sanctuary for Families, Heart of Dinner, The Audre Lorde Project, The Ali Forney Center, and Reach Out and Read. We’re still supporting volunteerism among Heartbeaters through flexible scheduling and volunteer PTO hours, and we’re continuing to work with BIPOC-owned businesses and BIPOC vendors whenever possible.

As our commitment grows, we continue to stand with Black Heartbeaters and with all Heartbeaters of color.

We still hear you, we still see you, and we always invite your feedback.


*For the purposes of this letter, “diverse” specifically refers to Heartbeaters who self-identify as Black, indigenous, and/or other people of color, including people who identify as multiracial.