Chief Diversity Officer, Publicis Groupe
Sandra Sims-Williams is the Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) for Publicis Groupe – a corporation with global affiliates. Consisting of approximately 16,000 people in its U.S. brands’ consortium, it reflects an array of digital and media entities, such as Digitas, Razorfish, Starcom MediaVest Group, Zenith, Optimedia and the VivaKi Nerve Center – as regards general and specialized brands, Leo Burnett, Saatchi & Saatchi, and MS&L among them. As CDO, she is responsible for developing and sustaining diversity and inclusion initiatives, tools, and measurement of success and failure for the Groupe.
Not unrelated, she chairs the Publicis Groupe Diversity Council on which each agency has a representative, and where she gives impetus to the fostering of collective diversity and inclusion strategy.
Prior to being appointed to this post, Sandra was responsible for structuring D&I strategy in VivaKi agencies – primarily media and digital – as Director of Diversity for Digitas. Among a variety of other things she did, she served on the VivaKi Talent and Transformation team, a group whose overarching mission was to create an environment to attract and retain top talent.
During her tenure with VivaKi, her efforts to underscore principles and policies of diversity are widely known, both, within agencies she immediately interfaced, and throughout the industry at large. As evidence, she still serves as a member of the NY Ad Club and works with the New York Department of Education, whose primary goal is to increase the awareness of advertising as a career to high school students through what is called the “I’mPart” initiative.
A bold move on her resume, Sandra organized and chairs the Roundtable for Advertising Diversity Executives, (RADE) which addresses diversity and inclusion in the advertising/communication industry introducing resources and best practices to D&I practitioners. She most recently implemented and authored a “go to” resource guide for the 4A’s Diversity Committee called “The Competitive Edge,” launched in 2012. Succinctly, having worked for more than 20-years in the field, this range of advocate-activity has netted Sandra the reputation of being a recognized authority on diversity by her peers and colleagues.
More than a subset-interest, Sandra highlights women’s history in exclusion and vigorously advocating the imperative for their inclusion. She is the lead voice for the Publicis Groupe launch of VivaWomen! USA, and persists in exploring opportunities to empower them through multicultural gatherings, training seminars, and conference opportunities, not the least of which is her annual hosting of Publicis Groupe women of color to the “Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit.”
Complementing this pursuit, she facilitates professional development for women via the Odyssey Network, which is the bringing together senior level women from diverse industries to present their knowledge, experiences, and challenges.
The litmus test of all who seek to make differences in the human family, Sandra is an involved member of her community. She has conceived and developed two transformational women’s groups, one for senior women, which meets monthly to interact on issues related to development, honesty in relationships, and an intellectual genre of books whose foci are personal enrichment, character, and courage – another for younger entry level women, designed to model, encourage, enhance, and navigate their careers. As regards the former, she has served as a member of the Women’s Executive Committee of the Boston Chamber, the latter, and is on the board for the YW of Boston and the Woodward School for Girls in Quincy, an outlying town.
She has served as a member of the Diversity and Advisory Committees for the Boston Ad Club and the Executive Council for WGBH, Boston’s PBS station. She is an alumnus of The Partnership – an organization whose aim is to attract and retain people of color who relocate to Boston – and she is a member of the 4A’s Diversity Committee.
Mrs. Williams has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey and a Master of Arts degree from Hunter College in New York.
Awards she has received, and is most proud of, include: Howard University’s School of Communication “Global Visionary” Award; the 15th Annual Rosoff “Mentor” Award; Boston YWCA “Academy of Women Achievers” and The New York Ad Club President’s Award. Most recently featured in Black Enterprise April/May 2013 issue, “The Feedback You Need” and the summer edition of SAVOY magazine, “Diversity in the Advertising Industry—Cracking the D&I Code.”