Publicis chief diversity officer Ronnie Dickerson Stewart is stepping down after nearly a year – and the holding company has no plans to find a replacement in the immediate future.
The loss of Publicis’ director of diversity comes as advertising companies continue to grapple with promises of greater inclusion and aim to stamp out racism. It also demonstrates the ongoing challenges of finding and retaining leaders responsible for addressing imbalances in the agency world within a larger social context.
Dickerson Stewart announced his decision to leave Publicis in a LinkedIn post last week. A Adweek Young Influential honored for 2020, she was appointed Director of Diversity at Publicis Groupe at the start of 2020, after more than eight years with the Publicis Digitas agency, where she most recently held the position of svp, career advancement and inclusion.
Create courageous spaces
Following the murder of George Floyd last year, Dickerson Stewart hosted a series of breed conversations as part of a “Brave Spaces” program that she helped launch at Digitas in 2017. She also has led the Publicis ‘Pausing For Action’ event on June 17th. which saw more than 18,000 employees participate in a discussion about how the holding company could tackle systemic racism in advertising. This event led Publicis outlining seven steps it was taking to invest in greater diversity, equity and inclusion beginning of July.
“My decision to move on was made in a thoughtful manner and with careful consideration of the inflection point we each navigate and which calls for integrity, urgency and authenticity in how we choose to lead and in the way we each do our part to intentionally advance DE&I, ”Dickerson Stewart wrote in the LinkedIn post. She also expressed her “gratitude” for the time she spent with the Publicis network for nearly a decade.
She concluded the post by saying, “As I told about 18,500 of my colleagues one fateful day in June, keep your foot on the accelerator! As I architect my next chapter, this is exactly what I intend to do, and I have no doubts that those who have embarked on this work will continue to do so too!
Renewed commitment to inclusion
Publicis has confirmed Dickerson’s departure and said he has no immediate plans to fill the role of director of diversity. However, the company said it remains committed to advancing its DCI goals under the leadership of Publicis veteran Renetta McCann, who will continue to fulfill her role as leader of the inclusion experience.
“Our commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion within our organization has never been greater or more determined. As we accelerate this momentum into the new year, Renetta McCann will continue to lead our DE&I action in the United States, ”a spokesperson for Publicis wrote in a statement. “As a true champion of our talent, we thank Ronnie for his many contributions and wish him good luck.
Dickerson Stewart’s departure follows shortly after the exit of a former member of his team. Aisha Losche, who was Vice President, Talent Engagement and Inclusion, left Publicis last November to join Boston-based agency Hill Holliday as SVP, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.