Tiffany R. Warren: A Champion for Diversity.
We were delighted to speak with Tiffany R. Warren, the Senior VP and Chief Diversity Officer for Omnicom Group, who has been kind enough to provide her insight on the state of diversity in the advertising industry.
AdForum: Tiffany, you have a unique role with Omnicom as the Chief Diversity Officer and you have been a force for change in the industry over the course of your distinguished career. You also oversee the Omnicom People Engagement Network (OPEN), an umbrella group for the company’s network employee engagement groups and activities. How do the Chief Diversity Champions work together to meet the diversity and inclusive objectives of OPEN?
Tiffany: A prime responsibility of business resource groups like OPEN is to ensure that the ideas, feedback and voices of our employees have a direct impact on culture and creativity, the lifeblood of advertising and marketing services. Recently, we partnered with OPEN Pride, our LGBTQA business resource group to review and find ways to improve our HRC Index score. We knew we were doing amazing things within the LGBTQA community but didn’t know to what extent. Through OPEN Pride outreach, surveys, collection of campaigns that supported awareness of LGBTQA equality we were able to achieve a perfect score this year of 100.
AdForum: In the eight years that you’ve been in your role as Chief Diversity Officer, what do you think has been the biggest benefit to the overall culture throughout Omnicom’s network of the increased awareness and focus of opening people’s eyes to diversity and thinking inclusively?
Tiffany: Opening people’s eyes indicates that they were not aware that diversity exists. It’s hard to miss the importance and relevance diversity has played in shaping marketing and advertising these last eight years. I started a month after President Obama took office; the historic importance of his win was a challenge because many thought we were now a post-racial society. I saw complacency and indifference spread in the industry.
My challenge was to move from diversity & inclusion to belonging. Belonging is emotional. It’s tangible. To create and nurture an inclusive culture is one thing but to make sure everyone feels like they belong is the tougher and more important challenge.
AdForum: I wanted to say congratulations on the 10th anniversary of the annual ADCOLOR Awards. You founded ADCOLOR in 2005, as a way of shining a light on champions of diversity and the great work being done in the industry that was not being represented in typical advertising award shows. What would you say has been ADCOLOR’s biggest achievement and what has given you the most personal joy in seeing it evolve over the years?
Tiffany: ADCOLOR’s biggest achievement hands down are three things: One: Creating an outstanding and inspiring community that supports one another as they rise up and reach back. Two: Shining a light on incredible professionals of color and diversity champions who have demonstrated that you can achieve great things while making sure you help and advocate for others along the way and Three: Gathering top thinkers, influencers and next generation leaders on a yearly basis to tackle the tough and courageous conversations that must be had in order for progress to move forward.
AdForum: Martin Luther King Day just passed and, for many, it was a time of reflection. Where do you think the state that the overall industry is in, in terms of inclusivity with all people of color, women, and members of the LGBTQA community?
Tiffany: Martin Luther King Jr. was a leader that knew and understood that real change comes when you change the system from the inside out. He knew that change does not happen overnight. Those stewards who are responsible for diversity & inclusion have a collective responsibility to not just their respective agencies but to our entire industry. During these challenging times, his message of unity could not be more timely and important.
AdForum: One would logically think that having different voices in the creative process can not only produce better quality work but have a similar effect on changing people’s perceptions the way shows like Modern Family and Transparent seems to have done with the LGBTQ community. How far away do you think we are as an industry to having the ideas and dreams of all creative people represented in the ads their agencies produce?
Tiffany: A lot of progress has been made in the last 10 years in promoting diverse themes, cultures and products in mainstream advertising. In the beginning it felt like a trend but 10 years strong we are seeing impactful and important work being done with sophistication and authenticity. I am hopeful but know that we are still far from creating a truly diverse workforce that reflects America and the global community. My team and I work hard every day to make this a reality.