MSLGroup names Daphne Hoytt Atlanta head, US chief diversity and inclusion officer

Hoytt is the third person to lead MSL's Atlanta office since May 2017.

Daphne Hoytt
Daphne Hoytt

ATLANTA: MSLGroup has selected Daphne Hoytt as Atlanta office leader and U.S. chief diversity and inclusion officer.

Hoytt reports to MSLGroup U.S. CEO Ron Guirguis. She replaces former Atlanta MD Doug Busk, who exited the firm in August 2018, according to his LinkedIn profile. Busk joined MSL from Coca-Cola in September 2017, replacing John Walker, who served in the position a mere five months.

Hoytt has been with the firm since 2005. Most recently, she served as SVP and North America consumer practice director. Eileen Ziesemer is stepping into the U.S. consumer practice director role.

"[Hoytt] has a long history and exceptional reputation for her extraordinary commitment to clients and for her advocacy around issues of D&I," Guirguis said via email.

In her role overseeing MSLGroup’s D&I strategy in the U.S., Hoytt will focus on recruitment, retention, mentoring, recognition, and addressing pay equity at MSL and across the industry, a statement said.

"Together with Sandra Sims-Williams, Publicis’ chief diversity officer, and many others, we have made a strong commitment over the last few years to make D&I one of our organization’s most important priorities," Hoytt said in a statement.

MSLGroup will still work with Sims-Williams, but has "elevated the importance of diversity and inclusion at MSL" with Hoytt’s  new responsibilities, an MSL spokesperson said.

An MSL spokesperson denied this move was in response to a class action gender discrimination lawsuit against the firm, which Publicis Groupe settled in 2015 and paid $2.8 million for in 2016.

"We created the position in response to the growing importance of diversity and inclusion in our company, industry, and society," an MSLGroup representative said.   

$197,500 was awarded to 23 plaintiffs, and another $1,000 for every pregnant employee because they should’ve been given an additional week of paid maternity leave.

After the suit was filed in 2011, North American president Jim Tsokanos resigned. Renee Wilson, then-chief client officer and former president of the PR Council, replaced him.

More recently, MSL promoted Danielle Wuschke to U.S. COO. Wuschke will remain head of the Boston office and EVP of global practices and sectors. Previously, she was promoted amid a broader restructuring to U.S. operations leader in September 2016.

Editor's note: This story was updated on August 30 to clarify that Publicis Groupe settled the lawsuit in 2015.

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