FleishmanHillard names Emily Graham first chief D&I officer

“We are having to redefine what a chief diversity and inclusion officer is,” Graham said.

ST. LOUIS: FleishmanHillard has named Emily Graham as its first chief diversity and inclusion officer.

Graham stepped into the role this week, reporting to president and CEO John Saunders and COO J.J. Carter. She is responsible for accelerating diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) as a business priority across the agency’s global network. 

She also will lead True Mosaic, a newly developed DE&I offering for clients made up of a global community of multicultural counselors. This service will complement FH Perspectives, the agency's internal engine for DE&I.

Graham will also work alongside a global DE&I task force to analyze recruitment, retention, compensation, training and development opportunities for colleagues with a focus on achieving racial and ethnic progress.

“After George Floyd’s [death], the urgency and need for our clients to be leaning into DE&I as a strategy not just as a side hustle or marketing moment was abundant,” said Graham. “For me, it is about how we are going to accelerate our efforts internally to back up what we are telling clients they need to do, which is to be accountable, show up, make progress and take action.”

The creation of the role marks a shift for Fleishman, said Graham, as the agency sees DE&I as a critical business priority that is just as important as client service and revenue growth.

“We are moving it to the centerpiece of our business,” she said. “It’s going to touch everything: our client experience, new business efforts, internal. It will have more rigor, more focus, more measurement and it’s going to be a task of people leading.”

Previously, Fleishman was focused primarily on internal engagement and advancing its ambition to be the “most inclusive agency in the world” while increasing its diversity numbers, explained Graham.

“That was fine, but we weren’t fast enough or clear or aggressive enough on what we were trying to achieve,” she said. “So this is going to be me being that catalyst and instigator with a force of people working alongside me to get it done.”

DE&I, she added, is the biggest threat for Fleishman and the PR industry as a whole. It’s important that people realize DE&I isn’t Black History Month, Women’s History Month or Pride only, she said.

“We are having to redefine what a chief diversity and inclusion officer is,” Graham said. “It isn’t just a talent-development function. It is central to the business, driving us ahead, making sure we are showing up the right way with clients.”

Graham has served in FleishmanHillard's leadership cabinet for the past two years. Most recently, she co-led the agency’s financial and professional services sector group for the Americas with SVP and partner Thomas Laughran. He will continue to lead that group.

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