Publicis Chief Diversity Officer Ronnie Dickerson Stewart is leaving her position after almost a year – and the holding company has no immediate plans to find a replacement in this position.
The loss of Publicis’ Chief Diversity Officer is due to ad agencies continuing to grapple with promises of greater inclusion and aiming to eradicate racism. It also shows the ongoing challenges in finding and retaining executives tasked with resolving the imbalances that plague the agency and media world in a broader social payroll. In October, Tiffany R. Warren resigned as SVP and Chief Diversity Officer of the Omnicom Group, only to join the Sony Music Group.
Dickerson Stewart announced her decision to leave Publicis in a LinkedIn post last week. After more than eight years at the Publicis agency Digitas, where she most recently held the role of SVP, career advancement and inclusion, she was appointed Chief Diversity Officer of the Publicis Groupe in early 2020.
Create bold spaces
After the assassination of George Floyd last year, Dickerson Stewart had a series of conversations about racing through a Brave Spaces program she launched at Digitas in 2017. On June 17, she also hosted Publicis’ Pausing For Action event. Over 18,000 employees took part in a discussion on how the holding company could address systemic racism in advertising. That event led Publicis, in early July, to outline seven steps it is taking to invest in greater diversity, equity and inclusion.
“My decision to move on was a decision I made thoughtfully and with careful consideration of the turning point we are navigating at each time. This requires integrity, urgency and authenticity in both how we lead and how we each deliberately drive DE&I, ”wrote Dickerson Stewart on the LinkedIn post. She also says thanks for her time on the Publicis network for nearly a decade.
She closed the post with the words: “As I told about 18,500 of my colleagues on a fateful day in June, step on the gas! As I draft my next chapter, I plan to do just that, and I have every confidence that those who are committed to this work will continue to do so! ”
Renewed commitment to inclusion
Publicis confirmed Dickerson’s departure and said it had no immediate plans to take on the role of chief diversity officer. However, the company claimed it remains committed to advancing its DEI goals under the leadership of Publicis veteran Renetta McCann, who will continue her role as Chief Inclusion Experience Officer.
“Our commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion in our organization has never been so important and focused. As we accelerate this momentum into the New Year, Renetta McCann will continue to lead our DE&I focus in the US, ”a Publicis spokesperson wrote in a statement. “As a true advocate of our talent, we thank Ronnie for her many contributions and wish her all the best.”
Dickerson Stewart’s departure follows shortly after the departure of a former member of her team. Aisha Losche, vp, Talent Engagement and Inclusion, left Publicis last November to join Boston-based Hill Holliday agency as SVP, Justice, Diversity and Inclusion.