“Believe in the value you bring,” Lukeisha Paul from GroupM

Feb 21, 2023

Welcome to the Pass the Mic and the Defining Moment series. We’re giving powerful women the opportunity to make the world their mentee. These rockstars are joining us to share their stories and sage advice with up-and-coming women.

Meet Lukeisha Paul, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion U.S. at GroupM. She’s been with GroupM for 19 years. Before taking on this powerful leadership position, Lukeisha grew up with the company, working in the media planning and buying business. Now, she oversees all of the diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives across the operating companies and satellite offices for GroupM in the U.S., impacting 6,000+ employees.

For this Pass the Mic interview, we started by learning about Lukeisha's impressive approach to DE&I in her organization. Then we pivoted into her advice for up-and-coming professionals. Get ready to learn how her perseverance changed her career and her company.

Bring DE&I to the forefront.

With a mix of passion and persistence, Lukeisha transitioned into her role as the Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion U.S. at GroupM, spearheading the role and bringing effective ideas to the in-company initiative. She plotted, planned, and proved that she was the right person for the job.

Make a difference.

Hear how Lukeisha saw an opportunity to make a difference and worked to make it happen.

Make a difference, Lukeisha Paul – Pass the Mic

Highlight: “I'm not going to lie, I kind of was stalking her. I would wait around the coffee room, the kitchen to see if she was coming in. And I just say, just to remind them, ‘I'm very interested in this. I'm still interested.’ And when I thought it wasn't going to go anywhere, I said to her, ‘Here are all the notes that I've taken so far of what I would do to help progress diversity, equity, and inclusion at GroupM.’ And I said, ‘Take it. If someone else is in this role, utilize it, but these are the things that we need to do to help make a difference in the change.’ And she said, No, Lukeisha, you're absolutely the right person for this. And about three months later, she called me. I was at a client dinner and she said, We got the approval. You're in the role.” – Lukeisha Paul

Address unconscious bias.

The DE&I program she crafted at GroupM tackles unconscious bias head on, helping employees face and address their own biases.

Address unconscious bias, Lukeisha Paul – Pass the Mic

Highlight: “What we've done is: we've had live facilitated sessions that come after we've done focus groups with our employees and then utilize a lot of that information to customize the information that we're going to be serving. The workshops that we're going to be doing, they actually have statements of instances of microaggressions—real life stories that are experienced here at the organization. So, when we do the sessions with individuals, it's not just: ‘This could never happen here. This just came out of the sky. This is something that was built into a presentation.’ No. This is your colleague. This is your team member.” – Lukeisha Paul

Create culturally immersive experiences.

When observing and celebrating occasions like Black History Month, Women’s History Month, or Hispanic Heritage month, Lukeisha strives to create immersive experiences.

Create culturally immersive experiences, Lukeisha Paul – Pass the Mic

Highlight: “You're going to enter into a space where what you see is almost from a viewpoint of that particular identity: what you see, what you hear, what you engage with. So purposeful because when you create truly immersive experiences, the people that are a part of that community feel like they belong, and the people that are not part of that community feel like they're now welcome into an opportunity to really engage beyond just having a conversation.”

Don’t just preach to the choir.

Lukeisha knew that making real change in her organization meant that training had to be mandatory. Otherwise, the audience would be mostly people who already understand the importance and impact of DE&I.

Don’t just preach to the choir, Lukeisha Paul – Pass the Mic

Highlight: “I recognized [that] if we made it voluntary, then it would be a situation where you were preaching to the choir. You would have the people there that want to see the changes made that are usually advocating for this and speaking up on it all the time versus the people who were unaware that they were participating in negative bias behavior and microaggressions.” – Lukeisha Paul

Bring allies on board.

No one can do it alone, so having allies to lean on helps everyone be stronger.

Bring allies on board, Lukeisha Paul – Pass the Mic

“We need to bring our allies on board. We need our allies. And so just speaking about the training that we do, sometimes we talk about the necessity of having someone from an underrepresented community along with an ally. Because when both of you are sticking together, more people understand that conversation and that it's possible to happen.” – Lukeisha Paul

Take a leap of faith.

Without her passion, preparation, and persistence, the GroupM DE&I program wouldn’t be where it is today. 

Take a leap of faith, Lukeisha Paul – Pass the Mic

“Not oftentimes are we given an opportunity where it's in our hands to control it. But if you're bold enough, and you just take that leap of faith, you never know where it's going to end up. And from there, I've been living by this, and I share this with everyone. Until you ask the question you are sitting in your no. What's the worst that can happen? You'd be exactly where you are today. So, that was my defining moment. It allowed me to change my career path. I reinvented myself, and I was still able to work within the industry.” – Lukeisha Paul

I have learned at each stage in my career so many new unwritten rules. As you advance or you pivot one direction, there's something more that you're going to learn within that phase or stage that you did not know before, that no one told you.

Lukeisha PaulHead of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion U.S. at GroupM

Just be yourself.

Just be yourself, Lukeisha Paul – Pass the Mic

Highlight: “The advice that I would share is to be you. There is only one person that you can be—no one else. Just be yourself. All of your unique lived experiences, those trials and tribulations, and everything that you've been through was a lesson to help strengthen you for that next stage or level that you're going to be at. No one can do you better than you. If you don't bring all of your unique lived experiences to where you are in life, at work, personally, professionally, you're doing yourself a disservice, but you're also doing that individual a disservice, as well. Because there's a reason why we connect with each other. There's a reason why we meet one another. There's a reason why we work on things together. If we all had just one perspective, we wouldn't be as creative, as innovative. We wouldn't go anywhere. We wouldn't progress.” – Lukeisha Paul

Don’t silence yourself.

Don’t silence yourself, Lukeisha Paul – Pass the Mic

Highlight “You'll continue to feel like you don't belong as long as you continue to silence yourself, like who you really, truly are in order to fit in. And I say ‘fit in’ in open quotes. It's not about being accepted, but rather welcome. So you have to be in a place where you feel like you can give more of yourself. And if you don't see that, why don't you start to be that? Why don't you just let people know who you are?” – Lukeisha Paul

Find a creative workaround.

Find a creative workaround, Lukeisha Paul – Pass the Mic

Highlight: “When faced with an obstacle, find a creative around. If you tell yourself this is just a matter for a creative work around, then you're telling yourself it's not a no or it can happen. I just need to find another solution.” – Lukeisha Paul

Value the people around you.

Value the people around you, Lukeisha Paul – Pass the Mic

Highlight: “If people would just get back to that: valuing the people around you, not just the people that work for you, the people that work with you, the people that work above you, on either side of you, all around. Value your people. That's how you grow your support system. That's how you grow loyalty. That's how you grow your relationships. Value the people around you.” – Lukeisha Paul

We value Lukeisha and all of her amazing contributions and wonderful advice. Want more inspiration? Check out more Pass the Mic content.

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