Chief Diversity Officer
Sandra Sims-Williams’ career in diversity began unofficially when she and her sister attended an integrated school for the first time in her Virginia hometown. Sims-Williams recalls her grandmother telling them to go and listen to their names on the roll call of excellence. “She was essentially assuring us that we were good enough or if not better than those whom we would assimilate with the next day and thereon afterwards. I took this lesson personally,” says Sims-Williams. Since then, Sims-Williams has continued to strive for excellence, often despite tremendous odds, while encouraging others to do the same.
Sims-Williams received a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and a master’s from Hunter College, City University of New York. In her role as chief diversity officer at Publicis Groupe, she is responsible for developing and sustaining inclusion initiatives, tools, and measurements of success and challenges for the company. In her 21-year tenure at the firm, she has risen in the ranks as the business grew from a single-office direct marketing firm based in Boston to an international business that is integrated with 13 other agencies, including its headquarters in Paris. Among the highlights of her career, she cites organizing the Roundtable for Advertising Diversity Executives (RADE), which addresses diversity and inclusion in the advertising industry, and hosting the annual Publicis Groupe women of color event at the Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit.
For Sims-Williams, advocating on behalf of others is more than just a career, it’s a lifestyle. She conceived and created two transformational women’s groups in her community for senior and younger women. “It’s always been a passion of mine to reach out and help someone,” she explains. “I do try to do my best to help empower people to live up to their full potential and enjoy their journey.”