Diana Marszalek 28 Oct 2020 // 5:53AM GMT
SEATTLE — WE Communications has tapped agency vet Elizabeth Herrera Smith to head the agency’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, becoming the latest in a string of firms in recent months to add a DEI leadership role.
Formally titled executive VP and head of diversity, equity and inclusion, Herrera Smith will lead WE’s DE&I initiatives around the world following an initial focus on North America. She reports to global CEO and founder Melissa Waggener Zorkin.
Additionally, Herrera Smith will work with leaders across the agency to evaluate and bolster the firm’s current programs, while also expanding DE&I programming, policies, training and engagement. Advising clients on diversity and inclusion also is among her responsibilities.
“We are committed to making systemic and sustainable change across our company,” Zorkin said. “Elizabeth’s track record and passion for progress and transformation will help us create a culture of belonging that celebrates what makes us special and addresses blind spots that need attention. I am incredibly energized by what her leadership will bring to WE in this capacity.”
Herrera Smith has been with WE for 20 years, most recently serving as a senior VP in WE’s consumer sector where she led efforts for clients including Microsoft, McDonald’s, Allrecipes, Cisco, Safeway, VSP, Volvo and others. Herrera Smith has also played an active role in WE’s DE&I efforts, including counseling clients on DEII engagement, actively participating in the agency’s employee resource and affinity groups, and serving on WE’s DEI leadership team.
In hiring Herrera Smith, WE 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 over the past few months.
Earlier this month, Ketchum promoted Lindsay Wagner from a consumer practice VP to head of DE&I for North America. 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.