IPG has warned all staff attending Cannes Lions next week to “act responsibly” and “avoid misconduct”.
In a leaked memo, obtained by AdWeek, senior vice president of talent at IPG Joe Kelly has told staff that their behaviour must adhere to the company’s values and policies and “anything less is never acceptable”.
“When our work is conducted outside the confines of an office environment, there can be a sense that this isn’t quite work or that we can behave different, especially if alcohol is present,” Kelly said.
“No matter where we are engaging with each other, however, we must always act responsibly and with the utmost respect for one another.”
He also called for employees to report inappropriate behaviour at the festival.
The memo reflects changing standards in the industry with holding groups moving away from the drinking culture that has plagued the industry in recent years, with WPP banning the drinks cart in its offices earlier this year.
It also follows many months of reports surrounding the #MeToo movement. Most recently, a group of women in the industry formed #WomenCannes to raise women's visibility at the award show and highlight sexual harassment in the industry, which it says has previously occurred at Cannes Lions.
The full memo:
We work in a great industry—the people, the work, the places our business takes us. We interact with smart, creative individuals, whether they’re our colleagues, partners or clients. We spend time with these people in our offices, at conferences and social gatherings, travel destinations, and via social media. No matter where we are engaging with each other, however, we must always act responsibly and with the utmost respect for one another.
Now is a good time to remind ourselves of these obligations, especially on those occasions, like the Cannes Festival, where you are traveling, and away from the office. Remember that you are representatives of IPG and your agency—and that you should conduct yourself with that idea in mind, knowing that the industry is watching you.
When our work is conducted outside the confines of an office environment, there can be a sense that this isn’t quite work or that we can behave differently, especially if alcohol is present. That is not the case. In any of those situations, our behavior must always adhere to our company’s values and policies. Anything less is never acceptable. If misconduct does occur at a function at which colleagues, clients, or vendors are present regardless of time or place—please understand that we will need to take action to ensure a respectful and safe environment for everyone. This action may involve discipline, up to and including termination.
All our people—and especially managers—must model appropriate behavior. Employees should exercise an abundance of caution when it comes to alcohol—remember, the Festival, like other industry events, is a work event, not a party. Everyone, especially managers, has an obligation to keep an eye out for each other. When someone is overindulging or engaging in inappropriate conduct towards one of our employees, you should intervene. That is true regardless of whether the person behaving inappropriately is an employee, client, vendor, or anyone else. We likewise expect you to intervene if one of our employees is engaging in inappropriate conduct towards anyone else.
If you are subject to or observe any inappropriate behavior, you are required to report it promptly to your manager, Human Resources, or the IPG Alertline (+1-800-828-0896). Your report will not result in any negative consequences to you. Just the opposite—your report benefits the company because it enables us to address the situation in a timely manner and to keep others out of harm’s way.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation in this very important effort.
SVP, Talent, IPG
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