Why Diana O'Brien Believes Promoting Diversity Is a Win-Win for Advertising

Diana O'Brien is flipping the script on diversity.

The Deloitte CMO sat with sportscaster and Dancing with the Stars host Erin Andrews to talk about the challenges and opportunities facing the advertising industry, including how to empower women and other minorities.

"I think it's about trying to understand what are the skill sets we need to solve the problems in the future,” she told Andrews. “Math, science, all the STEM skills that are really important for analytics, cognitive, AI. That’s the kind of thing we need holding up as examples so people can see that there are people doing this and they’re being wildly successful doing it.”

The proactive strategy flips the script on traditional efforts that rely on organizations to “empower” minorities by creating spaces for them when it’s actually the other way around: multiculturalism empowers companies by providing a diversity of people AND ideas that—as O’Brien says—are going to be needed to address an increasingly challenging and competitive industry.

And O'Brien knows that technology is at the heart of it. “The greatest part of digital is that allows for [connecting with the audience] if you get them in the right spot with the right content that matters to them," she said. "Issues like interactive things, driverless cars...we want to have that content when our clients want [it]. So, putting it in the right places on digital is a critically important aspect but it's also important in terms of how you communicate with them and give them an opportunity to engage.”

As fellow CMOs, O’Brien believes the present state of the industry presents both challenges and opportunities for marketers. “Digital has allowed for the conversation to be two-way, interactive and all the time. That’s a challenge but it’s also a huge opportunity,” she told Andrews. “We need to focus on how to use AI and cognitive to change the way we reach our customers and how we engage with them and extend to things that they’re interested in so we can learn more about them and be there when they need us to be there.”

But all of this would be useless if companies forget about their purpose as well as how to make a positive impact. “My job is to capture the hearts and minds of our employees and our customers and I need to come with the insight that really helps me reach them when they need it and want it and I can help make an impact for them,” O’Brien explained. “Our purpose statement is ‘to make an impact that matters.’ And we want to make an impact that matters on their toughest problems want to make an impact that matters on our people, on our communities. And so, for us, using that as our lens, if I want to capture your heart and mind around making an impact, I want to know what you care about.”

INSIGHTS, FEATUREDBy Alex Marin