christian dawn

GCI Health has hired AstraZeneca’s Dawn Christian as its first SVP of diversity and inclusion.

Christian started in the role in late September, reporting to GCI North America president Kristin Cahill. Christian does not have any direct reports, but the agency is building out her team, according to an agency spokesperson.

GCI will look to Christian for guidance on internal and external communications for the agency’s D&I efforts, and she will work with human resources and talent acquisition on diversity and inclusion programs.

“We look at her as a thoughtful partner, counselor and strategist for a number of different teams within our organization,” Cahill said. “She’ll also be partnering with the team that manages staff education and development plans and will make sure they’re inclusive of topics like unconscious bias.”

Christian will also partner with the firm’s culture team to find mentoring and advancement opportunities for staffers, Cahill said, adding that the firm will also look for her to counsel clients.

GCI had relied on D&I resources from BCW — GCI is a part of the BCW Group network — and holding company WPP, but had been thinking about creating a dedicated diversity and inclusion position since the start of this year. The death of George Floyd in police custody and the following protest movement prompted the agency to move faster.

“We have been tapping into resources that we have access to and working with a consultant externally for quite some time,” Cahill said. “Of course, since the events of this year, there’s been an increased focus on recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce and making sure the team feels resourced from an educational perspective and has the resources to foster important conversations on this topic.”

GCI has not released statistics detailing the racial or gender makeup of its workforce. Cahill said Christian will work to change that and help the agency become more transparent.

“That’s part of what we want to do in our work with [Christian] in deciding what our metrics are that we’ll hold ourselves responsible for as it relates to D&I and how we will approach our communications about that externally and more importantly to our internal team,” Cahill said. “One of the first things [Christian] is doing is embarking on a listening tour just to hear what people are feeling and what they need and then secondly, is working with leaders to assess what the metrics are that we need to hold ourselves responsible to.”

Previously, Christian worked at AstraZeneca, managing global diversity and inclusion efforts as associate director of learning strategy. She has also worked at pharmaceutical companies Astellas Pharma and Amgen.

An AstraZeneca representative could not be immediately reached for comment about Christian’s exit.

GCI Health posted a 22% revenue increase last year to $82.5 million, according to PRWeek’s Agency Business Report 2020.

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