GM's LeNeve weighs
talent against ownership in black ad agency review Previous Page LeNeve: I
would say to that (a) I disagree that the vast majority do operate that
way because a lot of our competitors are already doing business with
diversity agencies owned by a holding company...
But only 49% is owned by that holding company.
LeNeve: I just go back to the earlier statement. We may very well end
up, when the final assignment of everything is done, with the majority [of
the agencies hired] being diversity-owned. I don't look at that as a
specific criteria because I can't control ownership. You're talking about
2%. If somebody was 51% and they sold the other 2% to the holding company
a year from now, should I fire them, does it change what they're doing?
I can't manage the variables like that. I understand what you're saying,
and I hope that the final result of this is that we have a great line-up
of diversity agencies for all of our brands that fall in various
categories of ownership, but I'm not going to manage that or tell them how
to run their business.
Well, I can tell you that's what the concern is about. In the statement
that was released to us, it says that GM is going to continue to use
“African American owned and Hispanic owned agencies.” But then the rest of
the statement doesn't specifically say “African American owned.” I think
we needed to understand what you meant by that because “owned” means
something very specific. But just being African American is open to
LeNeve: And I see the distinction that you're making. I understand it,
and I can tell you that we're going to have some African American owned
agencies that are going to be part of the review. Carol H. and Translation
are cited in the statement. As far as I know Translation is still African
They're not. Steve Stoute sold the company to Interpublic in October.
LeNeve: I haven't been informed of that, but that goes to my earlier
point. I look at these agency relationships as being long-term. I don't
look to review them every year and if we hire someone that's independent
today and they sell 51% of their interest, I don't believe that I should
fire them if they're doing a good job.
But why isn't minority-ownership a requirement going into the
relationship? GM does it with its suppliers. There are very specific
guidelines about GM's commitment to minority-owned suppliers. Why doesn't
that same commitment and those guidelines apply here?
LeNeve: Let me ask you a question; if agency A was minority-owned, and
all of the employees of that agency are non-minority, and agency B...
According to the National Minority Supplier Development Council, which
developed guidelines with virtually all of corporate America at its side,
who the company employs is not the issue. The issue is about who controls
that company, not about employees.
all of those employees are making a salary, supporting a family...
That's not the issue...
LeNeve: I'm saying I can't manage all these things...and I don't know
that it's my responsibility...
All I'm saying is that GM has a criteria for your minority suppliers
and you have a stated commitment and goals for working with them. Correct
or not? Is there not a stated commitment about the amount of work that
General Motors will conduct with minority-owned suppliers?
Ryndee Cagney [GM spokesperson]: Yes, overall from a macro sense...
LeNeve: The distinction with material suppliers is we put out a
specification for a brake pad, that's the same brake pad whether you buy
it from -- the money does become important because if it's minority owned
or majority owned, but it's the exact same brake pad. I'm talking about
human talent, and expertise and experience. That's what we're buying. I
don't think it's apples and apples. I think it's apple and oranges. And to
me, the make-up of the agency, their track record is more important than a
distinction between a 51% and 49% ownership. That's what I'm saying.
But don't you want to encourage that talent that is often ignored in
those minority communities and give them the opportunity to be part of
General Motors' success? There's a reason why the national origin of a
car's components is considered a big deal and all of these things apply to
what we're talking about.
LeNeve: I think our track record -- and we don't know where we're going to
land here. For the last eight years we've had minority-owned agencies.
Many of our competitors haven't had that situation for the past eight
years. Let's wait until we complete the process. You bought up some
interesting points and I think we have to let this thing play itself out.
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