ICM Partners is undergoing a round of layoffs as the agency reorganizes amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. About 40 support staff positions will be cut.
In a memo to staff on Friday from ICM co-presidents Sloan Harris and Kevin Crotty, the executives unveiled a series of changes, including raising assistant pay to $20 an hour, planning a new agent training program and making “every effort to hire diverse candidates for at least half of all open positions going forward.”
The move to raise assistant pay, while cutting support staff roles, follows a sustained grassroots effort launched last October with the social media hashtag #PayUpHollywood, co-founded by TV writers Deirdre Mangan and Liz Alper as well as consultant Jamarah Hayner.
A study released by the group in December surveying 1,500 entertainment industry assistants described the industry’s current practices as an “unsustainable system” and that a majority of respondents made less than $50,000 annually with more than 90 percent saying they worked more than 40 hours a week. The same month, literary agency Verve raised assistant pay at several tiers, and in January of this year CAA raised pay from $15 to $18 an hour.
“Assistant pay needs to be increased to meet the growing cost of living where we do business. In order to get the best assistants, we will pay top of the market rates,” Harris and Crotty said in the June 26 memo.
The ICM executives also stated: “We must place increased emphasis on the recruitment of highly qualified diverse candidates for all positions.”
The Century City-based ICM, which employs more than 500 staffers, took on its first private equity investor, New York-based Crestview Partners, last December and had expanded its business by buying London-based music agency Primary Talent International in March.
Layoffs at the firm follow similar moves at other Hollywood agencies as the representation business has been hit amid a film and TV shutdown since mid-March. Endeavor, the parent company of WME, laid off 83 staffers at its Beverly Hills office, while Paradigm temporarily laid off 130 employees at its headquarters in the same city, UTA furloughed staffers and CAA unveiled pay reductions.
The full memo from Harris and Crotty is below:
As you know, we began the process of reevaluating all aspects of ICM operations at the end of last year. We looked at every line item within the agency to make sure we were operating in the most efficient manner. One of the key areas we scrutinized was our support systems across the Agency, and we came to the conclusion that we must redefine the roles of our assistants. Then the pandemic hit, and we pivoted to implement myriad other adjustments both large and small, which allowed us to retain nearly all of our employees at full pay.
Now, given our ongoing analysis, along with the lessons we’ve learned from our remote work experience, and the imperative to foster diversity in our workplace (and in active support of diverse artists), three things have become abundantly clear to us:
Assistant pay needs to be increased to meet the growing cost of living where we do business. In order to get the best assistants, we will pay top of the market rates; We want to reimagine a new, more rigorous agent training program to provide greater structure, enhanced on the job training, and to effectively grow assistants into greater roles within the agency and the industry; We must place increased emphasis on the recruitment of highly qualified diverse candidates for all positions.
Accordingly, ICM Partners will immediately increase assistants’ pay to an industry leading $20 an hour minimum. We will also update and expand our agent training program to provide more rigorous training and less menial tasks. We will also make every effort to hire diverse candidates for at least half of all open positions going forward, a plan first recommended by Diversify/ICM, the recently empowered internal group headed by board member Lorrie Bartlett which includes 75 ICM employees, from every department and level at the company.
As we next turn our attention to our carefully constructed return to work plan, we must acknowledge that with the efficiencies of technology and the need to remap and reimagine our workplaces, the functional realities of our business have changed. Agents and executives operate much more independently than ever before. After completing an exhaustive analysis of all job functions, as well as taking into consideration the realities of space requirements, we have determined that going forward we can operate more efficiently with fewer support staff. This is the new reality for almost all businesses in all industries and certainly across the board in ours. To that end, we have made the difficult decision to reduce the number of support staff positions across the company. In doing so, and in appreciation of everyone’s contributions to the agency, our top priority is to make sure that any affected employee will have a smooth transition to their next job. For those impacted by this decision, we will be offering generous pay and benefit packages.
ICM Partners is committed to having the best culture in the agency business. We have proudly been leaders in effecting gender equality within our industry and we will now use that experience to become leaders in the hiring, training and promoting of inclusive candidates of all races as well as the LGBTQ+ community. We are excited about the immediate implementation of raises for our support staff, and as our business grows in the future we are committed to finding outstanding candidates to join our ranks and training them to become the next generation of agents, executives and creative forces in our business. As ever, we remain passionate in our advocacy for our clients. The world needs their wisdom and entertainment more than ever.
Respectfully, Kevin and Sloan