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  1. Blog
  2. Partners in Diversity
  3. January 31, 2023

Inside Publicis Sapient’s Global Approach to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

What to expect at this digital consulting company and why it matters

DEI-focused company culture team building
Photo courtesy of fauxels

This article is part of InHerSight's Partners in Diversity series. Discover companies partnering with InHerSight to better support women in the workplace.

Publicis Sapient (PS), a digital consulting company, has helped the world’s most established brands evolve for a more digital future for the past 30 years. And while they’ve been forging ahead in tech, PS has been doing internal work, too—the work to establish and grow a global company culture that has diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at its very heart.

This is a challenge both similar and very different from those that other companies face. Focus on one country, and DEI initiatives at one organization might mirror those elsewhere. But add a cross-cultural, global approach to DEI? Now you have new elements to consider.

Enter PS’s DEI leaders. We reached out to two of them, Tanya Dacres in North America and Vieshaka Dutta in India, to learn how the company achieves DEI success across oceans. Learn how PS drives their core values home with these women at the helm. 

Read more: She Leads: Marie De Luna Is Vice President of Technology at Publicis Sapient

Tanya Dacres

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, North America Lead  

What she does: 

Tanya Dacres is a certified human resources and DEI Leader with over 20 years of experience. She is a leader in the areas of talent management, organizational design, training and development, DEI, and leadership and management coaching. In her current role as North America DEI Lead for PS, she partners with her Global Regional counterparts to conceive, create, implement, and execute DEI strategy solutions across all aspects of the organization.

She is also one of the 14 cofounders of the Canadian Black Standard, Canada’s premier networking and advocacy platform addressing systemic barriers to employment advancement and the inclusion of Canadian Black women in the sector of marketing. Over the past six years, she has also been a volunteer facilitator with the Edge Program, that offers marginalized and underrepresented youth a unique experience that empowers them to develop and grow their social and professional engagement skills.

Vieshaka Dutta 

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, India and APAC Lead

What she does: 

At PS, Vieshaka Dutta leads efforts to define and drive the DEI agenda for India and more recently for the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. That includes setting a direction, creating alignment, and generating commitment to DEI initiatives in the workplace. Throughout her career spanning more than 15 years, she has led strategic HR, culture, and DEI efforts. Beyond work, she has built community support groups and manages large networks focused on supporting women, mothers, and single parents. She is a strong ally for the LGBTQ+ support movement in India and supports advocacy in the workplace. She leads different forums like Working with Pride and Advisory Collective, which support DEI practitioners and advocates in India and enable the ecosystem for social justice in corporate India. She is a single parent to her 13-year-old son and enjoys meditation through art.

Publicis Sapient

Publicis Sapient is a consulting partner helping the world’s most established brands evolve for a more digital future. Rated most highly for Paid Time Off, Ability to Telecommute, and Support for Diversity, PS also prioritizes perks women tell InHerSight they want, such as a new parent transition program to ease the return to work and a Headspace subscription to bring everyone back to baseline. Explore PS’s ratings, benefits, and open positions now! 

Learn more ›

Why DEI? 

Tanya Dacres: This has always been an area of focus for me. My mother would have conversations with my twin sister and I as young Black girls on how we would have to navigate a world that would be more systemically   challenging for us. She always instilled in us that to whom much is given, much is required; therefore, we got involved in community work from a young age.  

As a teenager, I was able to contribute to an anti-racism forum for youth facilitated by one of our local city counselors. At 16, I was a facilitator for the Horizon conference, promoting science and math to young girls. From ages 17 to 20, I served on the youth council for a local Boys & Girls Club, where I provided support and programming to youth from marginalized and underrepresented communities. 

For me, DEI is who I am and has always been part of any role I played within any organization, whether full-time or as a volunteer.  To be able to fully focus on DEI in my current role and have influence in  driving toward transformational change, equal opportunities, and equitable experiences for diverse identities is something that motivates me.”

Vieshaka Dutta: “My journey in DEI started in a talent acquisition role way back in 2006 when I saw my senior colleagues shy away from hiring women for critical roles because they feared their stability at life stages when women tend to leave the workplaces. At a place where I had a promising career, and at a time when I wanted to have a child, I found myself wondering if I would be able to continue working in this environment. At the same time, I was supporting culture-building and leadership development efforts and learned ways to bring in change in an organization. 

I eventually changed jobs and found myself in an organization where we had way more women diversity. In this organization, I faced different challenges as a new mother and also later as I battled mental health challenges. I was a part of the core DEI team and championed support systems and paths for women leaders, parents, and LGBTQ+ people—the same groups I found solace in later on when I navigated some difficult personal situations and found myself being alienated from traditional society. I also learned more about the silent support groups of the LGBTQ+ community and the concept of chosen families. 

This was my inspiration to support and strengthen support groups outside of traditional family set-up. This is what I aim to create at workplaces through DEI efforts. Inclusive mindsets and systems impact not just the target communities, but a much larger group and create a sense of belonging for everyone. And I have witnessed people who have shifted from feeling unsafe in workplaces to being happier and bringing their whole self to work. And personally for me, that’s the most rewarding part of this work.” 

Why Publicis Sapient? 

TD: Part of the reason I joined PS over 11 years ago was the people I met through the interview process. It was the first time I saw an organization's core values demonstrated by each of the people I met. There was an openness and inclusive nature from each of the individuals that made me want to be part of the team. I was hired into a people strategy role (HR) and have had the opportunity to work across our Global Mobility and Global People Center teams. This exposure to the various regions and aspects of HR work has contributed to my own growth and understanding of the opportunities when it comes to DEI.

One of the earlier initiatives that the organization did around DEI was an experiential unconscious bias training called “Make Some Room.” The exercise gave our people the opportunity to hear the experiences of their colleagues and have conversations about the types of biases that existed. This was something that really showcased that, as an organization, we were willing to have uncomfortable conversations and to highlight the fact that, although we had a strong people culture, there was still a lot of work to be done to disrupt bias. In 2019, PS further showcased their commitment to DEI with the formation of the regional DEI leadership structure.”

VD: At PS, I found a great combination of an enabling work environment where people were encouraged to bring in new ideas and also embrace failures if it comes their way. I found our leaders easy to work with, open to experimenting, and supportive. Over time, I have witnessed a positive shift overall with both the organization and people addressing genuine issues more openly and embracing diverse talent groups. That said, there is a lot more ground to cover. When leading organizations take a stance, they set examples for the rest to follow—not just within the organization but the larger ecosystem that includes clients, partners, suppliers, agencies, and everyone they connect with. I am happy to be a part of this journey and give shape to it along with our army of DEI champions in the organization. 

Read more: How Publicis Sapient’s Women's Leadership Network Group Empowers & Encourages Career Development

Tell us about the culture at Publicis Sapient, both how you approach inclusion and which hard and soft policies are in place to support the environment you’re trying to achieve. 

TD: “Our purpose is ‘to help people thrive in the brave pursuit of next.’ Five supporting core values underpin our culture: engaging with openness, a learning mindset, inclusive collaboration, partnering for client impact, and embracing the future. Our values help us live our purpose by creating an environment that supports opportunity for all and allows everyone to thrive. We believe that the right systems and experiences are essential, but true commitment to transformation requires change in how organizations think, organize, operate, and behave, too—an ethos we apply to our own existence and internal practices. We strive to create an environment where our people are empowered, happy. and can bring their whole selves to work. 

In order to create this environment, we focus on ”inclusive leadership” and ”inclusive mindset,” underpinned with specific metrics and key performance indicators, which we track through data, engagement surveys, and qualitative feedback discussions. We know that any change we want to enact is a long-term cultural shift requiring systemic change to bring about a truly inclusive climate.”

Some highlights include:

  • Launch of our Global RISE Women Development Program March 2022: RISE is an ongoing multi-year commitment from our business to nurture and develop our women and will be assessed and scaled over time to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of Women within the organization. The program focuses on skills development, sponsorship, and mentorship, all underpinned by leadership advocacy.

  • Mental Health Ambassadors: As an organization, we are dedicated to minimizing the stigma and maximizing the conversations around mental health and wellbeing. In order to support this, we have over 50 people trained as certified Mental Health First Aiders.  

  • Business Resource Groups impacting policies and practices: In 2021, our Groupe-level Business Resource Group Egalite rolled out Transgender guidelines. These guidelines guarantee the protection of any of our transgender colleagues who make the decision to come out at work, whether they are in the process of transitioning or have previously transitioned without making their transness public. These guidelines provide the necessary support for the transitioning employee but also offer much needed guidance for the entire support system around them in the workplace, including their managers, talent professionals, and colleagues. 

VD: “As an organization, our ethos is deeply rooted in where we can make maximum influence and in turn influence the world and the community we live in. Accomplishing it requires looking at our people, who we believe are the biggest sources of creating this influence. When we help them drive an inclusive mindset, and educate them on the different aspects of diversity, we believe that’s our shot at making a difference.

This is not limited to people working at PS alone, but a philosophy that we extend to our larger ecosystem, and that includes our clients, partners, suppliers, our agencies, and everyone we connect with, such as bodies like Avtar, India’s pioneer DEI consulting firm. That is what the domino effect means for us. Impacting mindset to influence a behavioral change is the most difficult thing to achieve. We believe that driving more conversations around creating an inclusive mindset allows us to do so.  

These efforts toward creating authentically inclusive mindset shifts, which are led by our leaders, are supplemented by some of our flagship programs. At PS, we have a program called Spring that is designed to help women on a career break to get back to work. This program hires most people full-time into creative, equitable, and psychologically safe environments. Once they join us, we provide training to help them ease back into work gradually. They are connected to buddies and mentors as well as a community of other career returnees for support.  

Our focus over years remains to be on women career advancement and growth, inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community, and people with disabilities. And this is done by looking at everything we do through a lens of equity from hiring to enabling everyone to be successful. At PS in India, we have structured DEI practices and business resource groups, to focus on enhanced representation and support systems for women, caregivers, mental health and wellness, people with disabilities, the LGBTQ+ community. We also work toward building harmonious work environments for multiple generations to work seamlessly. All of our policies and benefits are gender neutral. We are one of the very few organizations that provides coverage for HIV positive people along with preventive medication. Currently our women returning from maternity is one of the highest at 98 percent and has been so over many years. Our leave policies are also some of the best and allow people to take care of themselves and their loved ones as the need arises.”

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