Real Chemistry has appointed Mary Stutts as global chief inclusion and health equity officer.

In the newly created position, Stutts will lead diversity, equity and inclusion strategy and bring together internal inclusion initiatives and customer-facing efforts across the health sector.

The agency’s DEI practice expanded last year with the creation of an internal DEI department led by Marcia Windross and a client engagement practice headed by Abby Hayes. Stutts will report to founder and CEO Jim Weiss and the board of directors.

For more than 20 years, Stutts has worked alongside the agency’s leadership and has served on the firm’s CEO advisory board, leading inclusive leadership workshops for employees and working as a client.

Stutts joins Real Chemistry from Sumitovant Biopharma, where she was SVP of corporate relations and led strategic integration of corporate branding, digital innovation, communications and advocacy for the parent company and its family of companies.

She has also led corporate communications and DEI efforts at Genentech, Bristol Myers Squibb, Bayer, UnitedHealth Group, Kaiser Permanente, Stanford Health Care and Comcast NBCUniversal.

Weiss said he knew Stutts would be the right fit for the position because of her “360-degree view” of the industry.

“What I think is terrific about Mary is that she understands [healthcare] from the provider side, the payer side and the manufacturing side,” he said. “Then as a person who grew up in it, she brings her own personal experience to the job in a way that I’ve rarely seen.”

Real Chemistry lists DEI as one of its five differentiators, which are: “data driven,” “live in digital,” “healthcare gurus,” “creative engagement” and “diverse and inclusive.” Stutts said she is planning to incorporate DEI across all of these categories instead of taking the “splintered” approach that is common for companies stepping into the diversity space.

“My work over the years has just proven that DEI within itself is an ecosystem, but so many times there’s no real oversight,” she said. “There’s no real integration of what success could look like in the DEI space for the companies, for the employees, for their customers and for us in healthcare for the patients and the healthcare providers.”

To encourage integration, Stutts and her team will build out an enterprise-wide mandate for inclusive leadership, ensure a diverse workforce of the future and provide strategic guidance and data-driven counsel to customers.

Stutts will also focus on diversity in clinical trials, health equity advocacy and will incorporate and expand Real Chemistry’s partnership with Dr. Reed Tuckson and the Black Coalition Against COVID to address broader health equity challenges.

“As we are making a lot of progress with people getting vaccinated, I think there’s a huge opportunity to take that work, that coalition and leverage it to address other health equity issues as well,” Stutts said, adding that one topic to tackle would be the disproportionately high maternal and infant mortality rate among Black women.