marketing execs

Over many years, I’ve had the great fortune of learning from some of the brightest marketers in the world. As marketing is so vast and ever-changing, there is never a shortage of topics to cover. But the No. 1 topic that continuously rises to the top is growth and how to drive it for the short and long term. And the No. 1 answer is always having diverse teams and being inclusive to expand ideas and authentically connect to the colorful world we live in. It’s one of the simplest marketing concepts on the planet. Be relevant. 

Yet, after all these years of hearing the same message coming from every leader, we still find ourselves in a world that struggles to embrace diversity and is inconsistently inclusive. Micro and macroaggressions continue to persist, representation is lacking in the C-Suite and executive roles and tone-deaf ads are still being produced. It’s still a massive problem and an ongoing conversation. 

With that, we bring to you a collection of personal perspectives and great tips from some pretty amazing people who we’ve featured across the CMO Moves podcastWomen Trailablzers and Top of Mind series to help reinforce the principles we should all have permanently tattooed in our minds and building into the DNA of our teams. Let’s commit to getting this right so we can move forward, together. 

Diversity is a fact. Inclusion is a choice. Both are critical.

“We always believe that you can’t have diversity without inclusion and that you really need to work on both simultaneously in order to get the results. There’s no point in bringing in diverse people if they don’t feel included or they can’t be themselves.” – Diego Scotti, CMO, Verizon

Diversity is a fact. Inclusion is a choice. With diversity, you can count how many people from different backgrounds work at your company. … But inclusion? You have to choose it. You have to work hard so that when someone joins your company, they feel welcomed—but three months later, they feel like they belong. And that is a much, much higher bar than just counting the number of employees you have of a particular gender, sexual preference, ethnicity, etc.” – Chris Capossela, CMO, Microsoft   

It is critically important that we work on two areas simultaneously. First is representation because without representation, the conversation about inclusion becomes meaningless. And second is inclusion so that the people who are coming into our workforce are heard and can have the impact that we all want them to have in our business.”  -Antonio Lucio, Global CMO, Facebook 

Inclusivity Needs to be hardcoded Into Your DNA  

“First, it’s about leadership. Of course, it starts at the top, and we are being incredibly intentional about bringing more women and people of color to our leadership. The second is all about our employees, and we have done a tremendous amount of work to make sure that people in our teams are not just going to their Rolodex, that we are meeting people all over the industry and trying to bring new perspectives to the organization.” – Pam Kaufman, President, Consumer Products, ViacomCBS

“We truly believe that today, diversity is a business imperative. No matter what industry you’re in, the growth engine is going to be multicultural. …  A lot of the D&I conversation tends to be an HR one. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but we need to have many different types of conversations. Do you have women and people of color at the board level, at the C-suite level and specifically running P&Ls, because I think that’s where the most impact actually happens.” -Steven Wolfe Pereira, CEO and Co-founder, Encantos 

“We looked and said, how can we make sure in all of our marketing communications, from events to campaigns, that we’re really driving inclusivity? It was really important to us that we didn’t make that one person’s job, or create a department or a team that did that. We felt that we really needed to make it something that was within the DNA of the marketing team and everyone’s responsibility.” – Stephanie Buscemi, CMO, Salesforce 

We Have the Power to Change Cultural Perceptions 

“I was thinking about my 13-year-old daughter who didn’t have many positive role models on TV or in the content she sees and this light bulb went off in my head: that media creates culture. … We have the opportunity to leverage the $50 billion worth of advertising to impact change in our industry and in culture. – Gail Tifford, Chief Brand Officer, WW International (on co-founding #SeeHer with Shelley Zalis)

“In my personal life, I’d been fighting and advocating for people to open their minds about the LGBTQ community and certainly had amassed a lot of skills in how to do so. And when I took this role on, I not only saw there was a professional linkage, but there was this personal linkage to be able to, as the storyteller, start to tell stories about who cannabis users are and start to break down those stereotypes and really allow people to rid themselves of shame.” – David Dancer, CMO, Inspire (former CMO, MedMen)

“If we talk about how we judge women in the world, are we looking past beauty and her outward appearance? Are we judging her based on her potential to influence the world or to change her economy or to change her community? There are just so many questions and I think that we have a real opportunity to do that in a different way. … I would like to see that continue and continue to evolve what we think are the standards of beauty and excellence.” – Bozoma Saint John, CMO, Endeavor (on being a judge for Miss Universe 2019)

“Unfortunately, because of the harassment I felt, I probably shed a lot of my ‘Arab-ness’ and became really, really American… And then a couple of years later, I thought, ‘wait, I dream in Arabic, I speak Arabic, I’m from that part of the world.’ And I have learned that leaning into that is actually what makes me who I am. And so, that’s why I feel like I always talk about authenticity as being key and why I feel so strongly that you just have to put yourself in the shoes of other people because you just never know who’s going through what, when you make decisions and determinations about them.” – Carla Hassan, Global CBO, Citi 

Accurate Representation is Fundamental 

“We are thinking about diversity and inclusion for all, so from a multicultural perspective, a gender perspective, sexual orientation, abilities, age and even [body] size. … We believe that this is what the consumer wants, and that has been a way for us to drive more inclusivity. In our casting, we show that these designer collaborations are for everybody: different ages, different sizes, different backgrounds.” – Rick Gomez, Chief Marketing, Digital and Strategy Officer, Target

“I’m so concerned about making sure that we have a true representation of stories. … I still get really concerned when I search ‘professional women’ and ‘unprofessional women’ and my picture shows up in the unprofessional section… that means that the wrong information is being fed. … So, we have to work very hard to make sure that people of color, women, differently-abled, LGBTQ, are represented in a way that allows them to be their complete selves.” – Monique Nelson, Chairman and CEOUniWorld Group 

“We want to make sure we have an accurate and realistic portrayal of all people in our advertising and the media in which we run.  In order to be able to do that well, we have to have representation at every aspect of the supply chain. On our brand groups, with our agencies and behind the camera.” – Marc Pritchard, CBO, P&G

“Front offices should probably look a lot different than the way that they look now. And so, I count that as a personal mission and opportunity of mine to help accelerate that transformation. If you start to think about some of the leading brands in the world and those top management teams, they’re not quite a reflection of the communities that they serve. And so I think that that’s a huge opportunity, not just for us in the NFL but also all of us in marketing and business at large. – Julian Duncan, CMOJacksonville Jaguars 

Equity is Not the Same as Equality 

“Equity is often confused with equality. Equity is not about treating everyone the same, it’s about correcting the imbalances… One of the examples that I love is that you have three people standing, looking over the fence and they are all different heights. Equality would be to give everyone the same box to stand on. Equity would be giving each one a different box so that they can stand on it and all see at the same height together.” Victoria RussellChief of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Papa John’s International 

“The big thing for me was also a chance to be a part of writing the narrative that would hopefully drive social change and that would address what has happened in the past in the legacy market and what could happen for the future. … Our goal is to figure out how we—at this moment in time where this has been such an exclusionary process—look at the past and rally the industry around making changes that will improve the lives of those that have been so negatively affected.” – Jason White, CMO, Curaleaf 

“Speaking out is one of the most powerful things we can do, especially if we use our voice to convene others to a common and just cause. We know that people around the world are not being heard, and in the broadest sense, I have made it my life’s purpose to listen to their voices and bring their messages to those who can help make a difference.” – Claudia Edelman, Founder, We Are All Human 

Lift as You Climb 

I like to say the things that I wish somebody would have told me and feel it’s my responsibility to share this wealth of information with other Latinas. I’ve always said that if I have a corner office, it’s my responsibility to throw a rope and bring another Latina back in. And I don’t apologize for that. – Mónica Gil, CMO, Telemundo 

“By now, we’re all well-versed in the studies and reports that show that companies with more diverse teams, across race, ethnicity, gender, religion and other dimensions deliver stronger business results. Business leaders need to set an intention to have representation at the executive and board level. They have to be comfortable shifting the power and giving others a seat at the table. It is really that simple.” –Danielle Lee, Chief Fan Officer, NBA 

“I have not seen a lot of people who are really not from the United States, especially females, make it to really senior level. So for me, truly this is what I believe, I wanted to become a trailblazer for females, particularly people who are not born here, and show them the way and that we actually can make it.” – Cynthia Chen, GM and President, Consumer Health and Wellness, RB 

Driving Change Takes Intent and Conviction 

“We can keep talking about what we want to do. We can keep saying were trying and that we’re shrinking [the wage gap]. But trying isn’t doing and shrinking isn’t closing. … If you want to create change, look in the mirror and ask yourself if you are a change agent, if you are a champion, if you are a conscious leader—and if the answer is yes, then do something.” – Shelley Zalis, CEO, The Female Quotient 

“I have oftentimes used the term radical inclusivity. You have to be radically inclusive because it’s not natural to look outside of yourself, meaning to not hire folks that look like you. That old adage, they’re not a culture fit. Well, you should question your culture. That’s the first thing you should question before you question if they fit it or not.” -Daniel Cherry III, CMO, Activision Blizzard Esports 

Accountability Drives Action 

“I believe that [better representation and inclusion] will be driven by holistic and systemic change, which means clients have to change, agencies need to change, production houses need to change. And then at the end, you have to be able to measure performance and demonstrate that all of this work actually matters and that it drives the top line that we all care for.”  - Antonio Lucio, Global CMO, Facebook 

“Where I could’ve just said OK but didn’t, is really demanding that our agency partners and people we do business with support diversity, at least 50/50 representation. … Demanding that the day-to-day people who work on our business all the way through the line align with us and align with me on the demand for diversity, I can’t even believe it but it was unpopular to do that. And I really think that there are a lot of places we can’t affect change, but this is one place that we could and we could do it overnight.” – Jennifer Breithaupt, Global Consumer CMO, Citi 

“I’m admittedly not somebody who talks about diversity and inclusion as a project. It’s something that you have to commit to. … You have to understand where you are today and then make a commitment to where you’re going tomorrow. We’re in the business world where we are rewarded by our ability to set goals and achieve them. And so when it comes to what our culture looks like and the representation of our organizations, you’ve got to make the same sort of commitments.”- Tariq Hassan, CMO, Petco 

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