FleishmanHillard has appointed Adrianne C. Smith (she/her) to Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, from WPP where she previously served as its first global director of inclusion and diversity. In her new role, she will advance FleishmanHillard’s global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) strategy and continue its ambition to become the most inclusive agency in the world.
While at WPP Smith guided the organization’s global community on the foundational underpinnings for DE&I strategies and led the team responsible for building an internal global inclusion and diversity resource platform for its network of agencies. She also oversaw a collective of DE&I executives from more than 20 agencies who collaborated to share best practices and support one another on their DE&I journeys. Smith was also responsible for developing a global conscious inclusion learning and development series focused on allyship, anti-racism, covering, bystander training and building inclusive cultures.
“DE&I is the defining issue of our time and we must be change agents – forging new and reimagined standards, ideas, values and ways of coming together,” said John Saunders, FleishmanHillard president and CEO. “Adrianne is an established industry innovator with the perfect combination of experience creating high-impact forums to explore diversity solutions, and unsurpassed professional and academic experience. She will be able to help us take immediate action that elevates our organization and creates sustainable change – for us and for our clients.”
Smith will report to Saunders and be a member of FleishmanHillard’s global leadership Cabinet, leading the work of the agency’s DE&I taskforce to execute against and further the agency’s 2021 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan, which includes moving DE&I to the center, growing and retaining talent, making DE&I intrinsic to its work, broadening its aperture and creating community connection. She will work in close partnership with Leela Stake and Adiya Mobley, co-leaders of True MOSAIC, the firm’s fast-growing capability specifically created to provide DE&I counsel and solutions to clients.
“As an advocate and activist, my forward-focused DE&I journey has been one of creating opportunities and providing access for those who have been historically left out of the advertising and marketing profession,” Smith said. “This journey has also included educating the industry on the value of diverse human capital. FleishmanHillard’s core business is built around storytelling and shaping narratives. They have laid a solid DE&I foundation to build a sustainable practice that moves the work from intentional to impactful. I’m honored to be a part of their journey to become the most inclusive agency in the world.”
With more than 20 years of industry and advocacy experience, Smith’s career has been focused on making the invisible visible by creating opportunities for under-represented communities. She participated on the launch team for a digital sub-television network as director of advertising at Soul of the South Network – SSN TV, the only broadcast network to focus on the unique experiences of the 20 million African Americans living in the South. Smith was also the first executive director of the Howard University Center for Excellence in Advertising. There her mission was to recruit and train people of color with nontraditional advertising backgrounds, but who had transferrable skills, for the advertising industry. Sixty-eight percent of the participants in the program still work in the advertising industry. Other previous roles include managing director of AdHere Network/Harlem TV-CIC, vice president of ad sales at the African Heritage Network and media buyer/planner for Leo Burnett.
Smith will continue her work with the Cannes Can: Diversity Collective, which she founded in 2017 to generate awareness and create access and pathways for underrepresented talent to excel in advertising, marketing, media and creative industries. The organization launched the first inclusion and diversity activation in the history of the Cannes International Festival of Creativity, Inkwell Beach – Cannes, which featured more than 100 speakers including prominent media personalities, actors and actresses, and business executives. Additionally, she serves as a DE&I advisor to Cannes Lions on talent recruitment, programming, and building an inclusive culture. Smith is also the founder of Vision Corps Media Group, a media incubation company developed to create new content for current and emerging media outlets including documentaries and TV specials.
Smith replaces Emily K. Graham, FleishmanHillard’s first CDIO, who was promoted to chief equity and impact officer at Omnicom in January 2021.