The Optics Podcast celebrates, supports, and amplifies professionals of color in the marketing communications and media industries by sharing stories of marketers, creatives, and journalists who make things happen.
This week, The Optics chats with Emily Graham, who recently succeeded Tiffany Warren as chief equity and impact officer for Omnicom, a leading global marketing and corporate communications company. Graham has more than15 years of corporate communications strategy experience. She previously served as chief diversity and inclusion officer at Fleishman Hillard and launched True Mosaic, a practice providing the PR agency’s clients with strategic DE&I communications counsel.
Graham spoke with The Optics Podcast to reflect on her career journey and her newest position at Omnicom. Here are three things you might not have known about the company’s newest chief equity and impact officer.
Emily Graham originally wanted to be a lawyer before pivoting to a communications career. The Southern Methodist University graduate always had a passion for storytelling. As a child, Graham wrote countless stories, poems, and songs. She thought these skills would best suit her in the courtroom until her guidance counselor informed her she would have to go to law school after college. Graham said, “I talked to my guidance counselor and she was like so here’s the skinny on law school. I was like ‘what’s law school?'” Because Graham was not interested in racking up any more debt and was eager to work after school, she decided to pivot to communications.
NYC was the place Graham needed to be. During the great recession, Graham landed her first job at Burson-Marsteller. A few years into her work, she transferred to the company’s New York office. “The busyness is an energy you can’t find anywhere. I’ve traveled to 40 countries… and the energy in New York can’t be replicated,” said Graham. She dedicates her experiences in Bed-Stuyvesant and the city as a whole as the root cause to her passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Graham has championed diversity equity and inclusion before it was popular. “I felt like I was in a movement before there was a moment,” said Graham who has spent her career focused on making places and spaces she’s been a part of look like her. Long before Graham’s role at Omnicom, she challenged C-level leaders to make their cultures something BIPOC people wanted to be a part of. “For me, it was just a growth into what I feel like I was born and gifted to do,” said Graham, “It just so happens that it’s already aligned in my faith and I didn’t have to try very hard to be there.”
To learn more about Graham’s journey to Omnicom, her plans for the nation’s leading communications company tune into The Optics Podcast. Available now on the Pod Digital Media app, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Rae Onwumelu is a correspondent for Marcom Weekly. Onwumelu's writing and reporting have appeared in The Huffington Post, Blavity and CityBeat. She previously served as a feature writer for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and content specialist for The Educational Theatre Association.