ST. LOUIS — FleishmanHillard has named Emily Graham, who has been co-leading the agency’s D&I efforts for the last two years, its first chief diversity and inclusion officer — the first big action from the firm since it committed to fast-tracking D&I efforts in response to current racial strife.

Graham will be responsible for accelerating diversity, equity and inclusion worldwide. That includes working with a global task force on analyzing minority recruitment, retention, compensation, training and development opportunities, with a larger focus on “achieving racial and ethnic progress in the way FleishmanHillard has long done with LGBTQ+ and gender equitability, as recognized by the Human Rights Campaign and National Association of Female Executives,” the agency said.

Graham also will lead True Mosaic, FleishmanHillard’s D&I offering for clients. She will report to president and CEO John Saunders president and COO J.J. Carter.

Over the past few years, D&I initiatives have been handled by the internal group FH Perspectives, which Graham co-led, as well as senior leaders, the agency's talent development team and regional heads.

New York-based Graham has been with FleishmanHillard for the last three years, during which she co-led the financial & professional services practice across the Americas in addition to diversity & inclusion initiatives. She also is part of the agency’s cabinet, a CEO-appointed senior leadership group. Previously she was an MWWPR group VP and led public affairs and corporate practice work at Burson-Marsteller.

“Delivering equity requires urgent leadership, the breaking of cycles and decisive action to bring about change. Appointing Emily to this new role is the first of many actions to come,” Saunders said. “Emily is a brilliant leader within our agency. Her ability to influence and galvanize others to a common ambition make her the right person to lead us forward in our DE&I journey.

"Diversity is our business; it must be center to all we do and talk about. As we reignite our ambition to be the most inclusive agency in the industry, we must show up in a distinct way with our colleagues and clients. Emily already touches many critical parts of our business; in this role she’ll be 100% focused on helping us take action, enable meaningful change and measure progress.”

Graham’s elevation comes two days after Saunders announced steps FleishmanHillard will be taking toward eradicating the PR industry's longstanding issues surrounding racial equity, which agencies have prioritized in response to the recent civil rights protests.

In a memo to staff Monday, Saunders rolled out the firm’s plan to do so, which includes steps such as challenging clients to take a stance on the issue, and holding senior leadership accountable for furthering change.

Other steps include creating a benchmark for DE&I progress by July 15; requiring diverse talent on the largest client teams and as client leaders; ensuring opportunities for advancement and promotion; dedicate funding and investments to fuel inclusive hiring, retention, training and development; and moving D&I to the center of all areas of business, from client experience to business development and more.

Said Saunders: “I do not have all the answers, but I know action is critical. And we have already started. We are also putting far more rigor to plans that already exist. We will measure, evaluate and have honest feedback cycles on what is working and what must be done better.

"This is not about platitudes, this is about our vow to be the change we want to see in the world – one step and one day at a time. Unlike in the recent past, there can be no pause button applied this time whenever we are caught up in the fog of daily business.

"We will do all we can to rid America of its original sin – racism. But the rest of us have a lot to answer for too. That’s the Uncomfortable Truth.”

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