BBDO Worldwide appoints first chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer
Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide hired Jason Rosario—the executive producer and host of Yahoo! News web series "Dear Men," which examines toxic masculinity in a post-MeToo world—as chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer. A BBDO spokesperson confirmed to Ad Age that this is the first time anyone within the agency has been appointed to a C-suite DE&I role.
Rosario, who is set to join on Sept. 8, will be based in New York and report to BBDO Worldwide President-CEO Andrew Robertson. His responsibilities will include partnering with senior leadership to "impact agency diversity policy and plans, recruitment, retention, training, education and leverage the network's work to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in the network, industry and society at large," according to BBDO.
Rosario tells Ad Age that the role particularly interested him because, unlike most other DE&I positions within agencies—which he says are largely only functions of human resources departments—he will be working across all disciplines of the BBDO network to advance DE&I efforts.
"Diversity is the lifeblood of this industry," Rosario says. "It says a lot for a tried-and-true agency, and surely for an iconic agency like BBDO, to bring someone like myself on. What excited me most [about the job] is this is an enterprise-wide role. This role partners with creative, learning and development, recruitment, retention ... every aspect of the agency."
With this role, Rosario says there is a real "opportunity for BBDO to do diversity work differently ... Let's be honest, there has been a certain level of performance in this industry. What excited me most in my conversations with [the BBDO leadership team] is they are aware there is room for growth," he says.
Rosario notes that he doesn't have a traditional agency background but asserts he is well-rounded and well-equipped in DE&I matters.
"Everything that I've done in my career up until now has pointed me to this moment," he says. "We're in an interesting time in our world. Conversations around diversity, equity and inclusion are critical to how we want to move forward. To get the opportunity to do this work at this level at an iconic agency like BBDO was a no-brainer."
Rosario says his past work has "primarily focused" on allyship and specifically understanding how men and other "dominant groups" can use their "voices to advocate for marginalized groups, mental health, diversity, equity and inclusion."
In addition to hosting "Dear Men," Rosario also founded The Lives of Men—a self-described social impact, creative agency and diversity accelerator that explores themes around masculinity, mental health and culture—in 2017. He says he is still involved in The Lives of Men as an expert, thought leader and facilitator of partnerships.
Throughout his career, Rosario has worked with various other brands and organizations including Netflix, Spotify, Verizon, the Huffington Post and ADCOLOR. He was the manager of global diversity and inclusion at Verizon Media before becoming the host of "Dear Men." Rosario also sits on the board of Made of Millions, a nonprofit that works to reverse harmful, negative stereotypes around mental health.
Rosario's appointment as BBDO's first chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer comes as agencies look to better diversify their ranks in response to the racial injustice movement that emerged from the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.
BBDO parent Omnicom, for its part, last month released its staff diversity makeup and laid out an "Open 2.0" action plan to achieve systemic equity across the holding company.
The holding company revealed that 2.7 percent of its executive managers, 4.8 percent of its mid managers and 5.5 percent of all its professionals are Black; 7.2 percent of executive managers, 8.9 percent of mid managers and 11.1 percent of professionals are Asian; 4.9 percent of executive managers, 8.6 percent of mid managers and 10.3 percent of professionals are Hispanic; and 84.1 percent of executive managers, 74.8 percent of mid managers and 70.1 percent of all professionals are white.