The U.S. population, and therefore its workforce, is becoming increasingly diverse. In the past 40 years, the white working-age population has declined from 83 percent of the nation’s total to 63 percent, while the number of minority workers has doubled. However, when it comes to leadership positions, the statistics are different. About 13.4 percent of the U.S. population is Black, but only four Fortune 500 companies have Black CEOs, and Black folks only occupy 3.2 percent of senior leadership roles in large corporations.
Throughout the past month, with the resurgence and increased allyship around the Black Lives Matter movement, companies have started to reevaluate their diversity and inclusion practices. It’s clear that, for many companies, there is a lot of work to do—but there is also a lot of great work being done. Here are some innovative, trailblazing marketers who continue to inspire us with the work they’re doing for their companies and for the world.
1. Aleesha Smalls-Worthington
Senior Brand Director, Scotch Porter
Aleesha Smalls-Worthington is the Senior Brand Director at Quallis Brands Co., which is the parent brand of Scotch Porter. Scotch Porter is a grooming and wellness brand that sells multi-purpose beard, hair, and face care products for men. When it comes to the brand’s marketing, Smalls-Worthington says their approach is “multi-touch.” She adds, “It’s critical to meet ‘him’ where he consumes content and deliver on his needs through product and information. No matter the medium, we focus on educating and entertaining men. Whether it’s talking about the benefits of using our products or highlighting interesting lifestyle hacks, our goal is for Scotch Porter to be a touch point in his life that makes him look, feel, and smell his best.” Recently, the brand has been sharing wellness tips on social media in addition to an Instagram Live series featuring a variety of guests who share their advice for self-care.
2. Meena Harris
Founder & CEO, Phenomenal
Meena Harris is a lawyer, activist, and the founder of the Phenomenal Woman Action Campaign, a female-powered organization that brings awareness to intersectional social causes. She also released a children’s book this year, titled Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea, hoping to provide more representation for young children of color. The company has launched numerous campaigns and lent its support to non-profit organizations such as the Essie Justice Group, which seeks to end mass incarceration; the Black Futures Lab, which helps to build black political power; and Native Voices Rising, which promotes advocacy and civic engagement in indigenous communities. She also appeared earlier this year on our All the Social Ladies podcast, where she talked with our hosts, Jenn and Michelle, about social media. She said, “Social is not just about amplifying voices—it’s also about revealing and giving voice to folks who might not otherwise have that sort of access, whether that’s to politics or any other powerful institution.”
3. Beverly Jackson
VP of Communication & Social, Activision Blizzard
Beverly Jackson runs communication and social at Activision Blizzard, an interactive entertainment company with a roster that includes iconic franchises such as World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, and Candy Crush Saga. Prior to that, she led social marketing at both MGM Resorts and Yahoo!. On the topic of creative marketing tactics, Jackson’s advice is: “Show, don’t tell. In order to create an engaging user experience on social platforms, you need to be able to show users something from their perspective—not yours. You need to be able to reach into their heart, put your fingers around it, and feel the pulse beat.”
4. Cristina Jones
SVP, Customer Marketing, Brand Partnerships & C-Suite Engagement, Salesforce
Cristina Jones, who has been with Salesforce for about two and a half years, is humanizing the conversation around technology. She believes when people and communities thrive, your business thrives. A storyteller at heart, Jones launched Salesforce’s “Make Change” series as a way to highlight stories of action leaders who are driving change in areas that need it the most. By empowering these leaders to share their authentic stories, the “Make Change” series reflects Salesforce’s core values in action, reaches wider audiences, and inspires others to embark on their own trailblazer journeys.
5. Troy Datcher
Chief Customer Officer, The Clorox Company
Troy Datcher held various roles at The Clorox Company before becoming its Chief Customer Officer. He has twice been named one of the 100 Most Influential Blacks in Corporate America by Savoy Magazine, and has also been named to Ebony’s Power 100 list. On the topic of diversity, he says: “It’s like sports. You need people with different skills to build a great team. If you had all jump shooters, you probably wouldn’t win a championship. But if you have a big man who can rebound, a point guard who helps move the ball around, and a few jump shooters—well, then you have a great team that can perform well.”
6. Telisa Yancy
Chief Operating Officer, American Family Insurance
Telisa Yancy has held many roles at American Family Insurance, most recently as their Chief Marketing Officer before being promoted to Chief Operating Officer in 2019. Our CEO, Carrie Kerpen, got a chance to speak with Yancy on the All the Social Ladies podcast a few years back. “In every place that you find yourself, continue to act like you’re brand new so that you’re continuously learning,” Yancy said. She also encourages marketers not to forget that it’s the business that has to win—so even on the more creative side, it’s important to learn how the business makes money. Continuous learning helps keep your passion alive, and your passion is what allows you to truly make a lasting impact.
7. Susan Somersille Johnson
Chief Marketing Officer, Truist (formerly SunTrust)
An engineer by training, Susan Somersille Johnson enjoys marrying the science of technology with the art of marketing to break the mold of what a brand should be. At SunTrust Bank, her team bridged technology and creativity to revitalize the brand while spearheading a cultural movement to inspire confidence through personal finances. Launched in 2016, The onUp Movement made national headlines and has inspired more than 3.7 million people, and growing daily, to take steps toward financial confidence. Johnson says, “As an engineer, you’re used to the bits and bytes, the numbers. Marketing is so ephemeral. You can change behaviors, you can change what people do with marketing. That’s really powerful.”
8. Bozoma Saint John
Chief Marketing Officer, Netflix
Just yesterday, Netflix announced that Bozoma Saint John will be starting as its new Chief Marketing Officer. Prior to Netflix, Saint John was the CMO at Endeavor, Chief Brand Officer at Uber, and held marketing roles at Apple Music and PepsiCo. Throughout her career, she has been a strong advocate for women of color and sees it as her responsibility to “hold the door” and forge a path for those who look like her. She also just announced her newest project, The Badass Workshop, where she intends to curate and share the knowledge she’s amassed in her career, style, health and wellness, parenthood, perseverance, goals, and so much more.