NEW YORK: BBDO, Fred & Farid, and a number of other leading agencies that work for HP have been told by the technology group that they must improve the diversity of their staff.

Antonio Lucio, Global Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at HP, sent a letter to the company's roster of five advertising and PR agencies last week, asking them to submit a plan within 30 days that outlines how they will hire more women and ethnic minorities in their creative departments.

They will then have 12 months to achieve their objectives and those that don't comply could find themselves removed from HP's agency roster, the Wall Street journal reported.

HP is also taking action to improve diversity within its own ranks and, while the company is not demanding a specific quota from its partners, Lucio said he expects them to meet at least 50% female representation.

"Including women and people of color in key roles is not only a values issue, but a significant business imperative," Lucio wrote in his letter.

"We are more likely to create solutions that amaze our customers if our workforce represents the communities we serve. As a global company, we need to take a broad view of diversity, as increased representation will take different forms in different countries. We have decided to start by addressing women," he added.

Lucio explained that HP is creating a scorecard to measure its own efforts at improving diversity in its own global marketing organisation and expected the same of its agencies.

"We are far from perfect, and I know there will be challenges, but I am committed to immediate, global, impact, rigorously measuring our performance and being transparent about the gaps to overcome. I am asking the same of each of you," he said.

The move came in the same week that Ann Simonds, CMO at General Mills, told Advertising Age that any agency seeking to win the FMCG giant's creative business must ensure their creative department contains at least 50% women and 20% "people of color".

It also follows a recent poll by the 4A's (American Association of Advertising Agencies) has also found that the majority of women employed in the US ad industry have experienced sexual harassment and discrimination.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal, Adweek, Advertising Age; additional content by Warc staff