CANNES— Longtime workplace diversity and inclusion champion Tiffany Warren likes the progress that the advertising industry has made with its workforce but says keeping them happy is the big challenge going forward. “The pipeline is fine. We have people who are interested and want to come into the business,” says the SVP and Chief Diversity Officer at Omnicom.

“But are they given opportunities, are they given strong client challenges, are they given chances to be promoted in the right way?” she adds in this interview with Beet.TV at the recent Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

“The big fight right now is keeping people in the business. In order for us to grow, we have to invest in that middle group of individuals now who are excited and want to work in our business. If we loose that excitement, if we loose them, we’re really going to be setting ourselves up for failure in the future.”

Warren has more than two decades of agency experience along with a stint at the 4A’s managing its diversity programs. In 2005 she founded the non-profit organization ADCOLOR to help drive diversity and inclusiveness in the creative and technology industries.

Not long ago, the only conversations about diversity and inclusion that Warren had at Cannes were informal ones on the beach. Now they have spread to Inkwell Beach on the Croisette. “In the past, diversity was simply an appearance by Kanye. I think we’ve moved past that,” Warren observes.

In addition to Omnicom employees, she was joined at the festival by like-minded clients. “I’m here with Microsoft and P&G and iHeartMedia. These organizations that take diversity and inclusion really seriously approached ADCOLOR and myself to partner with them so that they could have an authentic representation here on the Croisette.”

Asked by interviewer Jon Watts, who is managing partner of research and strategy consultancy MTM, what the future holds, Warren says diversity and inclusion are always evolving. As a high-ranking executive of color she feels it’s “incumbent upon me not just to figure out how to make people rise up, but also in my spare time and also through work reach back and bring others along.”

She doesn’t consider herself a role model but “a real model. I’m transparent, I’m vulnerable, I’ve failed forward, I’ve failed hard, I’ve picked myself back up. This is who I am.”

Partnerships with organizations like the 4A’s and the American Advertising Federation are mutually reinforcing. “It’s so refreshing to be able to rely on partners who know us well and know where our heart really stands,” Warren says.

Building authentic relationships with employees is particularly important when dealing with younger generations because they represent “the future of our business. What I’m hearing is that they want authentic relationships with organizations.” It goes beyond just having a job to “where their values match the organization’s.”

You are watching Beet.TV’s coverage of Cannes Lions 2019. For all of our Cannes coverage, please visit this page. Thank you to the sponsors of our festival coverage, which are Amobee, Innovid, Nielsen, RTL AdConnect and Teads. Special thanks to Hearts & Science for hosting Beet.TV for the Festival.