• Wednesday, May. 18, 2022
People on the Move
Heide Gardner to retire from IPG after nearly 20 years leading diversity & inclusion efforts
Heide Gardner
  • NEW YORK
  • --

Heide Gardner will be retiring as Interpublic Group’s (IPG) global culture officer, a role she assumed in June 2021 following nearly 20 years as the company’s chief diversity and inclusion officer. She will remain available in an advisory capacity until the spring of 2023.

Gardner’s long and distinguished career includes creative, public relations, government affairs and executive leadership work for corporate, not-for-profit, and industry trade organizations. Since joining Interpublic in 2003 as the first chief diversity officer for an advertising holding company, Gardner helped IPG establish diversity, equity, and inclusion as key differentiators. Together with her team, she created several of IPG’s award-winning initiatives including accountability and reporting processes; fellowship and mid-career development programs for people of color and their managers; CEO-level diversity councils; cross-agency collaboration platforms through employee business resource groups; partnerships with research organizations; and world-class programs featuring renowned cultural icons and subject matter experts. IPG was also the first advertising and marketing holding company to disclose U.S. racial and gender data by level.

Gardner has influenced the ad industry broadly. She was a founding deputy vice chair of the Unstereotype Alliance, the global entity convened by UN Women to erase biases in content. In 2011, Gardner led the first main stage panel on inclusion and the launch of IPG’s annual breakfast focused on equity at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. Gardner’s work also included spearheading IPG’s partnership with the Advertising Club of New York to challenge the industry on the representation and experiences of Black women in advertising. She was the founding executive director for the American Advertising Federation’s Mosaic Center, where she was a federal lobbyist and organized industry leaders to focus on access for minority-owned and led agencies and media, and created AAF’s Most Promising Multicultural Students program, which has led to the hiring of hundreds of talented employees across the advertising industry.

Throughout her career and time with IPG, Gardner has received many awards for thought leadership, effective advocacy, and achievement in the diversity and inclusion field. IPG has also earned citations for innovations and performance in prestigious forums. Under her stewardship, IPG increased their ranking for Forbes Best Companies for Diversity from number 10 out of 500 listed in 2021 to number 5 on the 2022 list. The company was included in the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index for the past three years, and IPG earned a 100% rating for the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for 13 years. 

As a capstone to her career at Interpublic and many years of service to the industry, Gardner has been invited to serve as a juror for the Glass Lions category at the 2022 Cannes International Festival of Creativity. The Glass Lions are “The Lion for Change” which celebrate culture-shifting creativity and recognize the power of creativity to positively impact not only businesses and brands, but also the world at large.

“I am grateful to all of the team members, business resource group leaders, clients and our agency partners for their support and hard work. It has also been very rewarding to have the support of IPG’s Board of Directors and executives to address incredibly sensitive and complex issues for almost two decades,” noted Gardner. “Since 2006, we have embedded critical cultural values such as the importance of rigor and quantifiable measures that hold our CEOs and senior management team accountable. Their commitment also made it possible for us to be among the first companies in the United States to focus authentically and honestly on racial inequalities well ahead of the pandemic and 2020 crises. Winding down this phase of my career, it is reassuring to know IPG is future-facing and focused on even more progress. I am looking forward to having more time with my family and taking on select consulting and pro bono advisory work on issues that matter deeply.” 

“Heide has been a powerful asset for Interpublic over her nearly two decades with the company,” commented IPG CEO Philippe Krakowsky. “She helped bring the concepts of diversity, equity, social justice and a truly inclusive workplace to life--both at IPG, and across our industry. Over the years, Heide has forged strong, mutually beneficial partnerships with community organizations, educational institutions and leading scholars that have been of real value to our people, our organization, and our culture. The impact she’s made on our company will endure and has set us on a path that we must pursue with even greater focus and dedication.” 

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