Last year Karen Kahn's supercharged career took another leap forward when HP promoted her to the executive leadership team, reporting directly into president and chief executive officer Dion Weisler. The move came after HP CMO Antonio Lucio — who worked with Kahn on an impressive diversity initiative — left for Facebook.  

Those concerned about the industry's diversity have long advocated that clients should take the lead and demand more balanced representation from their agencies. Since 2016, HP has been doing just that. And Kahn has played an integral role in this process, in which HP mandates its marketing agencies take concrete steps to increase the number of women and people of color in key creative and strategy roles.

In the two years the initiative has been in effect, HP's firms have made significant progress in hiring underrepresented groups and exceeded gender parity in leadership. HP’s second annual diversity scorecard, released last fall showed underrepresented groups saw a 12 point year-over-year increase in representation on account teams, and now account for 36% of the staff employed by the five agencies. The number of leaders from underrepresented groups rose nine points to 28%.

“We are proud of the work done thus far but know there is much more to we can do to advance representation and equality,” Kahn said after the second scorecard released last fall. 

“Companies must stand for something bigger than the products they sell. Karen is a purpose-driven leader, and her advocacy for diversity and inclusion is a prime example of how she is strengthening our business and moving the industry forward," HP CEO Dion Weisler said. "The vision, passion and creativity Karen brings to our leadership team has been important to reinventing our corporate brand and positioning HP for the future.”

Prior to HP, Kahn spent nearly five years as VP of corporate marketing and communications at Broadcom. Before that, she spent more than seven years as VP of global communications at Sun Microsystems. She spent the earlier part of her career in leadership positions at Weber Shandwick and FleishmanHillard.