In honor of Black History Month, Adweek decided to get a little meta and interview its own newly promoted chief brand officer, Danny Wright, to shine a spotlight on his achievements throughout his career. Wright talks about some of the challenges he sees in the industry for people of color and the ebb and flow of expectations and goals. He also notes how diversity is crucial for all businesses industrywide and hopes for a day when it doesn’t need to be called out any longer.
Read more from our Q&A with him below.
Adweek: How did you break into the industry and come into your role here at Adweek?
Danny Wright: It was an accident. I’m from the music business originally, and a colleague of mine I worked with at Arista Records in the year 2000 had moved on to co-create one of the biggest events in advertising. After a chance meeting in N.Y. on the last day of the aforementioned event, I joined that company and spent seven years helping to globalize that franchise before coming to Adweek.
You were recently promoted to chief brand officer—congrats! Could you tell us about your promotion and how it ties into representation for people of color in C-suite and leadership roles?
Thank you! The CEO and I recognized that the responsibility for evangelizing our brand was something I was already doing, and CBO seemed a more appropriate title. I also co-founded an initiative called I.D.E.A. (Inclusion, Diversity, Equality and Awareness) whose mission is to tackle the issue of diversity from the top down. Many of the other founders hold C-suite or svp titles, and we actively look to educate those immediately around us of the robust and diverse pipeline of very qualified candidates for leadership positions across our industry.
What challenges have you seen facing people of color in the industry?
There are many. That’s not to say things have not been better, but it is to say that the goals seem to constantly shift and the attitude toward the issues of race and diversity in the workplace are not always as receptive as they are today. Initially, I would point out that finding groups of commonality (big or small) is not that easy. Empathy can be very constructive when negotiating a challenging situation with colleagues, and it’s not always easy to find that when you are a team of one or your leadership does not really look like you.
Are there any changes you’d like to see in the industry regarding diversity? If so, what are they?
I’d love to see the day where we do not need to call it out! But until then, I’m quite pleased with the amount of airspace this issue currently occupies and all of the amazing organizations that have sprung up to meet this issue head-on. Diversity is a business imperative. There are many studies that can illustrate the success rates of companies that practice diverse hiring practices, particularly at the leadership and board levels.
Is there any advice you’d give to people of color who are possibly looking to follow in your footsteps?
Yeah, size 13 shoe so don’t show up late to the sales because they don’t stock a lot of those! Oh, that’s not what you meant.
Always be positive. No matter what is in front of you or how defeating things may seem, keep positive. Lead with love and compassion. And as you thrive and your career escalates, please do not forget to reach back and help those behind you.