Feb 21, 2019
By Stuart Winchester
An overview of the challenges and rewards of workplace diversity and inclusion programs from Tiffany Warren.
Back in 2005, Tiffany Warren, then the manager of diversity programs for the American Association of Advertising Agencies, noticed a disturbing pattern at industry award shows.
“I had the opportunity to go to a lot of industry events, and so I would go to these events and there were a lot of great winners, but I didn't really see people of color winning,” Warren told an audience of Viacom employees last week. “Or I would see the same people winning, which they well deserved, but I knew that there was more to it than the list that I kept seeing.”
So when she left for a director of diversity position at Arnold Worldwide, she asked the agency to help her launch ADCOLOR, which celebrates and advocates diversity in the creative and technology industries.
“The good thing about Arnold is it was started and it was called ‘Arnold’ because the founder of Arnold, Arnold Rosoff, couldn't put his last name on the door because he was Jewish,” said Warren. “So I couldn't have thought of a better place for ADCOLOR to launch, in an agency where you really got to come as your full self.”
Together, they organized the first awards show in the fall of 2007. “Fast forward to 2019, we are now a movement and an organization,” Warren said, with a 1,200-person conference, the award show, and a professional development program that recruits young people nationwide.
In a conversation last week with WHOSAY Chief Marketing Officer Paul Kontonis, Warren, who is now chief diversity officer at Omnicom, spoke at length about the importance of diversity and inclusion to modern companies, detailing how a company’s culture must evolve before implementing change. The globally live-streamed event was part of Viacom’s Spark summit designed to equip, engage and inspire the company’s 10,000 employees to thrive in our rapidly changing workplace.
Here are a few highlights of Warren’s conversation with Kontonis:
"If you're going to continue to be successful in this day and time, diversity is your only way forward."
People are tired of the word. It makes them sleepy because people use it so often and they use it badly. But the effects of diversity, particularly in business, has proven to be a revenue generator. You can do another Harvard study, McKinsey can come up with another study, but it's proven. Unfortunately, diversity is a driver but those individuals who made the car are not getting far. Look at your levels, your succession planning, and make sure you're moving people up who are driving the diversity within your organization.”
"If you're in a room and everyone looks like you, I think you know that you're protecting the status quo."
“That's really hard to pinpoint, but I think generally if you're in a room and everyone looks like you, I think you know that you're protecting the status quo. Or you're in a room in which you're only taking suggestions from people that look like you, or act like you, I think you know you're protecting the status quo.”