Agencies are speaking out on Donald Trump’s executive order banning immigrants from seven Muslim countries from entering the United States.
The industry, which has always relied on foreign talent, is no doubt affected by the ban, which bars for 120 days people from seven countries from entering the United States and puts on hold the U.S. refugee program.
While the ban initially extended to legal permanent residents, the administration has walked that part back. Still, agencies hire a lot of foreign talent: The advertising, PR and services industry had over 2,000 green card applications alone in 2014, according to TRACimmigration. It is unclear how many foreign workers work in advertising.
Michael Roth, the CEO of Interpublic, the New York-based holding company sent a memo and statement Monday morning that read as follows:
“We are a talent business and we’ve long been committed to making diversity and inclusion a core part of our company’s DNA. We therefore remain committed to protecting our colleagues, and will provide whatever assistance is necessary to keep our employees and their families safe and a valued part of our organization, no matter their nationality or religious beliefs.”
A company spokesman added: “I can’t comment on specific personnel, but as a global company with 50,000 employees and multinational clients spread across all world regions, including the Middle East via our MCN holding, you can appreciate the importance of the issue to us.” The agency has also offered the services of the company’s dedicated 24/7 travel center to provide security or any legal or health support to any employees concerned about the situation. MCN is IPG’s “Middle East Communications Network,” a group of networks in the region based in Dubai that has agencies in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Algeria.
WPP CEO Martin Sorrell sent the following, more emotional statement out:
“No immediate impact we are aware of in the first few days of the ban, but we are concerned about the impact it may have on our people and their families both inside and outside the USA and on innocent people generally. As the grandson of Eastern European grandparents, who were admitted to the U.K. in the very late 19th and early 20th centuries, I have an instinctive dislike of such measures.”
Ian Schafer, CEO of Deep Focus, tweeted this out Saturday night, and also wrote a long post on his website about the effects of the ban.
As a CEO resp 4 not only the growth of my business, but our clients’, @realDonaldTrump’s EO is an affront 2 innovation, liberty, & humanity.
— Ian Schafer (@ischafer) January 29, 2017
In response to a query from Digiday, Omnicom CEO John Wren issued the following statement:
“Our people are our greatest asset and right now, our top priority is to protect and support employees, their families and all those otherwise affected.”
MDC Partners sent this statement:
“First and foremost, we are committed to protecting and supporting all members of the MDC Partners community and their families. We will provide any assistance necessary, including legal counsel and support, to ensure that our colleagues are safe and thriving. Our industry is built on the creativity of a diverse global community, and we work hard every day to maintain an environment that is inclusive and supportive of great talent from all walks of life. We believe that our differences allow us to build the strongest connections, and we stand with all employees who wish to express their talents and creativity in our agencies, our industry and our country.”
Outside the agency world, CEOs from many companies, including Intel, Nike and Facebook have denounced the immigration executive order. Other companies like Lyft and Google are also donating directly to the American Civil Liberties Union in an effort to fight the order; while Starbucks has announced it will hire 10,000 refugees in response.