Soon Mee Kim, Hall of Femme 2020

EVP, global diversity, equity and inclusion leader, Porter Novelli

What word would you use to describe your childhood and why?
I’d say the word fullness describes my childhood. Our home was always full of people and food, laughter and love, and a sense of belonging — especially as foreigners, or across cultures. I didn’t know it then, but my parents were always building community.

Do you have a nickname? Explain.
I’m pretty salty about nicknames because I can’t even get new people I meet to call me my real name. More often than not, my name is shortened to “Soon” or “Kim” or switched up to “Mee Kim” or some other combination with careless disregard. So, I’ll stick with Soon Mee.

Tell us about your most embarrassing fail. How did you recover?
My most embarrassing fail was one that, in the end, had only been a failure to me. The sad thing is that I had spent many, many years feeling shame and disappointment. Through difficult conversations with others who were involved, I finally learned to extend grace to myself.

What fictional female character (in a book or movie) has always inspired you?
Growing up, there was such little Asian or Asian women representation in media that I really loved Joy Luck Club as a whole — the book, the movie, the characters, the story, everything. So much of my identity is wrapped up in being a daughter of immigrants and my parents’ hopes and dreams through and for me. To experience Amy Tan’s story of self and intergenerational connectedness communicates that I matter; we matter.

Any real-life women or men you look up to?
Wow, I look up to so many people. Doing what I do in diversity, equity and inclusion, I meet the most incredible people who are passionately aligned with their purpose every single day. That said, I have to say the real-life woman I look up to most is my mom. She is the epitome of agape love.

Favorite song and why?
My favorite song is "Hey Ya" by Outkast. No deep meaning for me. It just makes me happy.

Finish the sentence: To ensure career advancement and pay parity for women, I will...
…remember that when we say women that includes women of color, women with disabilities, LGBTQ women and women across a broad spectrum of identity; shine a light on systems that create inequities; and push for change.

What is it about this industry that frustrates the hell out of you?
I’m frustrated by the industry’s lack of urgency to address the extreme lack of diversity in our profession at all levels, especially in the executive ranks.

When have you seen this industry or your organization really shine?
I’m most proud of Porter Novelli’s We Stand for Love campaign. I’m honored that more than 80 of my colleagues have trusted us to tell their most intimate stories of overcoming hate with love, and taken steps to cross divides by extending helping hands and listening ears.

What is your golden rule at work?
Lead with empathy. People don’t care what you know until they know you care.

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