Ketchum announced the creation of a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Advisory Board, a cross-functional, multinational team comprised of six Ketchum employees who will work together, alongside counsel from DE&I experts Dr. Quinetta Roberson and Dr. Tony Allen, to set the firm’s short- and long-term DE&I goals and drive strategies to achieve them. The DE&I Advisory Board will report to Ketchum partner, president and CEO Barri Rafferty.
“My goal as CEO is to ensure every employee can bring their whole self to work and feel comfortable contributing their diverse opinions in the workplace,” Rafferty said. “We have built a strong foundation at Ketchum, and I believe the DE&I Advisory Board will push us to further enhance employee engagement, recruiting efforts and our focus on equality.”
Ketchum has a longstanding commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, with affiliations with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that have lasted more than 20 years, and partnerships with organizations dedicated to DE&I, including PRSA Foundation, The LAGRANT Foundation, Black Public Relations Society, OPEN Pride, AdCamp, ColorComm and StepUp. Ketchum’s recent DE&I efforts include a partnership with Cook Ross to develop and deliver unconscious bias training for all employees; the consultancy’s LaunchPad gamified recruitment process that introduced the industry’s first blind recruiting system; the establishment of the Kotcher-Ketchum Scholarship program for African American Boston University students; DE&I Councils launched in 2014 that drive local office programs; and the firm’s recently announced commitment to pay equity globally.
Roberson said, “Ketchum is really ahead of the field in terms of convening a board to lead its DE&I initiatives globally. When multiple people take the lead on such an important issue, it ensures diversity of thought, which in my experience is a key factor to success in this area. I am thrilled to play a role.”
Allen commented, “Change comes with intention. We can’t ‘be the change we want to see in the world’ and have complacency win the day. We owe it to our craft, our clients and our communities to do better, every day, in every way. Ketchum is taking the right steps, and I look forward to being involved.”
Roberson is the Fred J. Springer Endowed Chair in Business Leadership in the School of Business at Villanova University. She has more than 18 years of experience teaching courses and workshops globally on leadership, talent management and diversity. In addition, Roberson has published more than 20 scholarly journal articles, edited volumes, and book chapters on diversity and inclusion, which are informed by her experiences as a financial analyst and small business development consultant prior to obtaining her doctorate.
Allen is executive vice president and provost at Delaware State University, one of the nation’s oldest and most diverse HBCUs. Previously, he led the corporate reputation group at Bank of America and was responsible for developing programming to influential external audiences including media elites, national social justice advocates, academics and elected officials at federal and local levels. Allen is a recipient of the Whitney M. Young Award for Advancing Racial Equality, the National Urban League’s highest honor, and in 2016, he was named PR Council’s National Diversity Champion.
Both Allen and Roberson are principals at Brooks Whitney, a management consultancy they have co-owned since 2013.
In partnering Ketchum employees representing key business functions across the company with noted DE&I experts Roberson and Allen, the advisory board will be able to blend a deep understanding of Ketchum culture and the communications industry with outside perspective from corporate and academic settings, with the goal of advancing the firm’s DE&I practices beyond norms in the communications field.
In addition to the external advisers, six Ketchum employees will serve on the DE&I Advisory Board:
- Mike Doyle, partner and president, North America, and co-chair, Omnicom OPEN Pride network
- Jocelyn Jackson, research director, Ketchum Analytics, and Ketchum DE&I director
- Janita Lakhanpal, growth director, London
- Michele Lanza, partner, global talent acquisition
- Jeff Lewonczyk, senior creativity and content manager, corporate communications
- Beatrice Winkler, chief human resources officer, Germany
“Diversity in personal background, professional experience and overall perspective contributes to more productive discussions and richer new ideas,” Rafferty said. “The composition of the advisory board reflects the firm’s vision for DE&I globally, with board members representing both client-facing roles and key business functions focused on employee engagement, development, compensation and leadership, while also representing diversity in geography, ethnicity, religion, gender and sexual orientation.”
In line with this, Jocelyn Jackson has been named DE&I director for Ketchum. She was selected by Ketchum leadership from a pool of qualified Ketchum employees who volunteered for the role. She will lend her leadership and skills to the DE&I Advisory Board and Ketchum’s DE&I councils across North America, and will help establish councils in markets globally.
Jackson is a founding member of Ketchum’s New York DE&I Council and has served as programs manager and executive leader team member for ColorComm’s New York Chapter. Jackson will continue in her client-facing role as research director within Ketchum Analytics, with a rebalanced workload to enable a portion of her time be devoted to Ketchum’s DE&I activities.
“Jocelyn is respected by colleagues and clients alike for her leadership, intellect and team-building, and she has been a strong advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion within Ketchum, the industry and business community at large to advance DE&I understanding and practices,” Rafferty said.
Jackson added, “To make an impact on diversity, equity and inclusion in our industry and universally, we have to move beyond buzzwords and lip service and take action. Ketchum’s introduction of the DE&I Advisory Board is a bold step, and I am overjoyed to marry my personal passion with my professional path as I take on this new role of fueling DE&I initiatives across our firm. I am committed to getting DE&I right to ensure the continued growth of our industry and our industry professionals.”