Embrace All People: Publicis Media's Tim Jones on the Essence of Diversity & Inclusion

By Advancing Diversity Podcast Archives
Cover image for  article: Embrace All People: Publicis Media's Tim Jones on the Essence of Diversity & Inclusion

As someone who immigrated to the United States and became a citizen, Publicis Media, Americas, chief executive officer Tim Jones has a personal connection to the diversity and inclusion (D&I) issues making headlines today. That connection, and his belief in our founding doctrine of embracing all people, are clear through his participation in organizations such as Autism Speaks, for which he's a member of its board, and myriad programs instituted at Publicis.

MediaVillage will induct Jones into the Advancing Diversity Hall of Honors on January 8 at CES, along with seven others who have stood out by accelerating the move from advocacy to activism. Jones, who serves as a conduit for many of diverse voices at the agency group, aims to ensure he amplifies their messages throughout the organization to drive real action. He loaned his voice to a episode with E.B. Moss, head of content strategy for MediaVillage, discussing both his origins and the origins of some of the Publicis Media initiatives created to help diverse talent get hired by our industry and be heard — and why they strive to take that message to Washington, DC, as well.

The following is an abridged version of their in-depth conversation. Listen here to the full interview. Subscribe or listen to the Advancing Diversity podcast series on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or watch on YouTube.

E.B. Moss: Let's talk about your overall company D&I initiative. What's the message internally?

Tim Jones: We express our overriding vision in three words: trust, talent, and transformation. A key component of each is our approach to diversity and inclusion.

We've put in place a number of foundations to build on. One was establishing business resource groups. We have Egalité, which is LGBTQ. We have Viva Mama, which is mothers in the workplace. We have Next Generation, which is young professionals. We have MOCA, which is Men of Color Alliance. Each group acts as a voice [for its constituents] and to help activate our plans. And I help to ensure they're heard throughout our organization.

[For example], we select our star performers from within the Gen Next population and assign them with tasks to look at such as mobility and the company's internal communication. As a result, we've learned to communicate in a different way, such as shortening memos.

The second is that we set D&I goals within each level of the organization. We track our entire population by the typical demographics, and we look at diversity and we set goals within each level to ensure that we have a diverse balance between men and women, across all areas of diversity among African Americans and Hispanics and Asians, as well…. We also reach out to the veteran community for people looking to come back into the workforce. And we hire people from among the autistic adult community … who have the ability to work in an office environment and can cope with administrative tasks that need accuracy and commitment. We've had a lot of success with that and they've really enriched the culture of the company.

Moss: You're also an honoree of the 13th annual Autism Speaks Celebrity Chef Gala. Talk about the work that you've done through Zenith and Publicis Media for Autism Speaks?

Jones: I was at a fundraiser for Autism Speaks and I was touched by the issues that group faces; the number of children being diagnosed with autism. I felt that it was something we could help with: provide strategic counsel pro bono, in addition to the Ad Council media inventory that they receive. So, we now have a 10-year partnership with Autism Speaks in securing strategic space for them, particularly around World Autism Day and their Light It Up Blue program.

Moss: What have you done in the past year that's new or different?

Jones: When we created Publicis Media, we looked for a cause that we could adopt. Right at that time, Ad Council was coming out with this with it's a signature campaign "Love Has No Labels." We put our hands up and said, "We would really like to be involved in that."

The ambition of that campaign was something that we wanted to promote and get behind. I'm really happy with our association with that work. RGA does the creative and we support with media strategy and other services, particularly in the digital area.

We also put our hands up to support the See All initiative, launched by the ANA and AIMM. They're recognizing that advertising still doesn't totally reflect multifaceted American consumers, and that it needs to be course corrected. Advertising and programming need to have more accurate representation and inclusion of all segments, including African American, Asian, Hispanic, disabled, LGBTQ, multi-racial, and beyond.

Moss: Tell us about Publicis Media'sMulticultural Talent Pipeline.

Jones: MCTP is a fantastic source of multicultural talent for us. Typically, we will hire more than 50 percent of those people into positions or into our graduate training program, which is another initiative [we have]. It's tremendously important for us. It's not easy to address the imbalance in diversity; you have to come at it a number of ways and one of the most important is ground up.

So if we can increase our ability to bring in a diverse population through things like MCTP, our outreach to specific colleges, and in specific areas of the country, then we can over-proportion that intake. And then, the conversion through and the success of that talent building within the company is heightened.

Moss: How are you seeing diversity and inclusion efforts help your client and employee engagement?

Jones: There isn't an RFP or opportunity that comes into us that doesn't include a question about our approach to diversity and inclusion. So, we are able to talk to clients about all [the initiatives] we've been chatting around. And I think that reflects really well on our company.

We work with some of the best companies in the world and they all have very developed diversity and inclusion programs. They also have … specific causes they're behind, so we like to pair up on those and support them and that's been very successful, as well.

Internally, [our programs are] on screens throughout our offices in the U.S. and we talk about our policies on diversity and inclusion. We celebrate success … whether that be the Graduate Training Program, the Multicultural Talent Pipeline, the latest work that we've done for Autism Speaks or for Finish Your Diploma. You can't talk enough about it. And there is an expectation from our workforce that we do this.

Moss: Let's talk about the census.

Jones: OK, I'll go there. If you'd asked four months ago, I would have said one of the biggest concerns I have is with the forthcoming 2020 census. At that point, there was a serious likelihood that there would be a question on citizenship, and that if you weren't a citizen, you would be excluded from the census. There are huge ramifications if you're missing 10 percent of the population — more in some areas — and the census is used to look at things like roadway planning, railroads, infrastructure, where housing and stores are built.

But, specifically for us in marketing, to be able to account for that multicultural population is absolutely critical. It is our fastest-growing, most important segment across the U.S., so we lobbied hard on that.

I'm really happy that the administration decided to take out that question. And I do think it points to the tolerance of diversity and inclusion…. Whether it relates to immigration policies, gun control, importance of all sectors of society … the advertising industry and the marketing community [need to be] behind the founding ethics of this country.

I came here as an immigrant and this country embraced me, and I became a citizen. And I think America has a fantastic history in doing that: embracing people, whether they're coming here through opportunity or under duress. It's a big country. We need to keep growing. And I think we need to readopt all of the great things that we've done in the past.

Weaving diversity and inclusion into the fabric of your company is good for business. And we have proof. In this podcast series, our Advancing Diversity Hall of Honors 2020 inductees each discuss the many ways their organizations champion diversity, equality, and inclusion, as well as examine the benefits to their company, constituents, and community. Each episode features one inductee's strategies and best practices that others can adapt to help their organizations accelerate the move from advocacy to activism.

The 2020 Advancing Diversity Hall of Honors inductees include Jill Baskin, chief marketing officer, The Hershey Company; J. Michael Haynie, Ph.D., vice chancellor for strategic initiatives and innovation, Institute for Veteran and Military Families; Tim Jones, chief executive officer, Publicis Media, Americas; Tim McNeal, talent development, Walt Disney Television; Sue Obeidi, director, Muslim Public Affairs Council, The Hollywood Bureau; Tony Rogers, chief member officer, Sam's Club; Tiffany R. Warren, founder and president, ADCOLOR, and senior vice president, chief diversity officer, Omnicom; and Shelley Zalis, chief executive officer, The Female Quotient.

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