ICM Partners has been the only major Hollywood agency to retain almost all of its staff without across-the-board salary cuts as the coronavirus pandemic brought Hollywood production to a halt. (The agency released floating assistants early in the shutdown, now in its fourth month.)
Now ICM Partners is implementing a support staff reduction, letting go of about 40 assistants, who will get severance packages including at least three months of health coverage. Along with the cuts, the company is raising the minimum pay rate for all remaining assistants to $20 an hour, effective immediately, believed to be the highest among talent agencies.
Additionally, ICM Partners is committing to filling 50% of all new job openings with diverse candidates. The plan was first recommended by Diversify/ICM, an internal group headed by board member Lorrie Bartlett.
ICM Partners had been reviewing its staffing needs when the pandemic hit and the agency, like every other Hollywood company, transitioned to working remotely. With agents and executives all operating more independently working from home and using videoconferencing, there has been less need for assistants. Additionally, as the agency was drafting return-to-the office plans, it had to comply with social distancing rules which require fewer people in a confined space, especially the bullpen area where assistants usually sit close together.
As a result, ICM Partners is laying off 40 of its 200-300 assistants. The agency’s co-presidents Sloan Harris and Kevin Crotty just informed those impacted via Zoom. In addition to the pay raise to $20 an hour for those staying on, ICM plans to step up the agent-training program to effectively grow assistants into talent representatives.
Here is the internal memo sent by Harris and Crotty:
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.
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 the 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.
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