SAN FRANCISCO — W2O Group has launched two new initiatives to improve diversity and inclusion — one designed to promote DE&I within the agency and another focused on helping clients with their DE&I strategies.

W2O’s DE&I department will be led by Marcia Windross, who is charged with making the agency a more diverse, equitable organization through accountability, engagement and culture. Windross (pictured) brings more than 20 years of experience working in the arena, including nearly 13 years as IPG’s senior director of diversity & inclusion.

Abby Hayes, most recently a W2O managing director, has been tapped to serve as head of the firm’s new client-focused DE&I engagement practice. Her charge is developing solutions that address pressing issues such health inequities, particularly around Covid-19, and racial and socioeconomic health disparities, and making DE&I part of client strategies.

W2O has also hired Karla Talley, formerly Kraft Heinz global manager of inclusive leadership, as director of diversity, equity & inclusion. Toni Pringley joins as DE&I manager from Omnicom, where she assisted in creating and launching employee networks.

“Healthcare transformation is happening faster than ever, and inclusion and access is the future,” said founder & CEO Jim Weiss. “This year, we tackled critical areas of DE&I by providing tangible data, insights and pro-bono communications support to partners including the Black Coalition Against COVID and TCEL. To improve our efforts, we listened and engaged our internal Business Resource Groups to have the tough, but candid, conversations and used their insights to guide and inform our holistic strategy. Additionally, we conducted an independent, third-party culture audit. Collectively, these actions are making the world a healthier place – for W2O, our clients and our communities.”

In making the new hires, W2O joins a growing list of PR firms hiring DE&I leaders as a means of amplifying efforts to address systemic racism and inequality following the Black Lives Matter movement in recent months.

In October, WE promoted Elizabeth Herrera and Ketchum promoted Lindsay Wagner to lead their agencies' DE&I efforts. September saw M Booth naming Eric Winkfield its first DE&I leader, and H+K Strategies named Azurée Montoute-Lewis and Bridgette O’Neal its global and US diversity, equity & inclusion heads respectively, marking the first time the firm has put D&I under the watch of designated leaders.

Just days earlier, OPRG named Porter Novelli’s Kim to her new role. And in June, FleishmanHillard named Emily Graham, who has been co-leading the agency’s D&I efforts for the last two years, the agency’s first chief diversity officer.