James Kotecki (00:08): 

This is CES Tech Talk. I'm James Kotecki, bringing you one of my favorite C Space Studio interviews from CES 2024. I had a lot of great conversations in Las Vegas, and I know you're going to like this one, so enjoy. Hey, you're in the C Space Studio here at CES 2024. I am James Kotecki, and I am joined by Omnicom's chief equity and impact officer Emily Graham. Welcome. 

Emily Graham (00:34): 

Hi, James. Thank you. 

James Kotecki (00:36): 

Thanks so much for being with us. For those who may not... I mean, I assume many people at C Space, which is the media marketing advertising section of CES, know Omnicom, but for the wider audience, can you just define the Omnicom brand at large? 

Emily Graham (00:48): 

Sure. We are a global media marketing communications powerhouse conglomerate. We've been in the business for a very long time. We come to CES every year. We go big, and this is an opportunity for us to talk about some of our biggest innovations, our big announcements. I run our global diversity, equity, inclusion strategy. 

James Kotecki (01:07): 

And so what does that look like as you head into 2024? What's on the top of mind for you? 

Emily Graham (01:12): 

Not complicated at all. I'm laughing because it's not true. It's a really changing society. I think we saw 2023 had more of a critique of diversity, equity, inclusion, and its relevance. I think that we are here to say, in 2024, unequivocally DE&I is here to stay. It's a huge part of the way we experience brands. It's a huge part of the way we do our business. AI has become a really big part of the way that we do DE&I- 

James Kotecki (01:12): 

Yes, we're going to talk about that. 

Emily Graham (01:39): 

... and all of that, so yeah. 

James Kotecki (01:40): 

So, do you think we'll continue to go along this path? Do you think there'll be a rebranding? Are you thinking about maybe changing the words that are used? Certain words are used to mean something. Maybe it's something relatively innocuous. It takes on a different connotation. 

Emily Graham (01:55): 

So interesting. Diversity, equity, inclusion became a proper noun. People don't even use the words. They just say DEI and it has become so politicized and so loaded. I don't think we need a rebrand; I think we need a reaffirmation. I think people need to remember that diversity, equity, and inclusion have different purposes, but they all work together and it's not a threat. It's not a threat to humanity, it's not a threat to society as we know it. It's an enhancer, it's an enabler and it's a good thing. 

James Kotecki (02:23): 

Speaking of things that some people worry might be a threat to humanity, let's get into that AI conversation, and especially how your role and your view on it adds to the conversation. 

Emily Graham (02:34): 

The more I learn about AI, the more I recognize it is truly a mirror of our society: the good, the bad, and the ugly. When it comes to diversity, equity, inclusion, there's a lot in there. We have to be very mindful that AI just spits out the mirror that it sees, the information that it has. So I'm more focused on impacting the world as we know it so that AI shows up better for us, and the biases that we see, and some of the misinformation that we see so that we can have a stronger AI. 

James Kotecki (03:04): 

In terms of the training data its working on? 

Emily Graham (03:06): 

Absolutely. Training, recruitment, the analysis, the research that it does with the diverse equity inclusion lens. 

James Kotecki (03:13): 

We were talking with the head of Omnicom Media group earlier here in the C Space studio. I have a lot of conversations so people can just, hopefully, forgive me if I get this wrong, but I believe our Omnicom Media group has its own internal AI that folks are using as employees to accelerate and augment their work. Do you have to think carefully about what that's actually trained on? Where do you get your training data? How do you think about that? 

Emily Graham (03:38): 

I had a funny story. Yesterday, I was on a call and I got a notice that the person was using an AI tool to take notes. And so I clicked on it and I got an Omnicom popup and it said, "Prohibited. Have you read the Omnicom generative AI toolkit?" Basically, they want us to be very thoughtful about the way we're interacting. 

James Kotecki (04:00): 

You can't just use any old [inaudible 00:04:02]. 

Emily Graham (04:01): 

No. They want our clients to get our brains and our thought leadership. That's what our clients are buying, but the way that AI enables us to do the work, we have to be trained on it. We have to be knowledgeable on it. We have to, even as DE&I practitioners, I think embrace it, but not let it do our jobs; can't replace us. 

James Kotecki (04:22): 

How do you think about playing defense versus playing offense here? What I mean is you could be playing, and maybe you do have to do this to an extent, whack-a-mole with, "Okay, don't train on that data, don't use that tool because it's just not going to get us the results that we want." On the other side, can these tools be used to augment the goals that you have in these arenas of more equity and inclusion? 

Emily Graham (04:42): 

Augment, make more effective, make more efficient, amplify, scale, for sure. I think therein is what I would like to see in the shift at the AI narrative is more, not fearmongering, but go towards the information. Let us learn and unlearn what AI really does and what it doesn't do so we can be partners in the work. 

James Kotecki (05:03): 

Do you have a favorite AI example or one that brings you joy when you think about the way it was used? 

Emily Graham (05:08): 

I really love what Google is doing. I think Google Pixel has been phenomenal in bringing light to the different skin tones and shades that have been not seen on camera. I think what they're doing with shadowing and images, and all of that, is phenomenal. 


I think the beauty industry has really started to recognize, maybe first and foremost, that we need more representation and that people want their identities to be seen. I also think everything that I'm seeing around disability, whether it's vision impaired or whether it's hearing impaired, I see brands being far more thoughtful about the way they're bringing people into experiences and not leaving them out. I read something about the AI divide: this ability for AI to either connect or divide us based on how it levels people up, and I think those are examples of that. 

James Kotecki (05:59): 

Something that my wife often reminds me is that when technology is used to bring more people into the conversation, it's not just those initial people like, for example, let's say closed captioning. Maybe people who aren't hearing impaired also just prefer that they have an option to have closed caption, right? 

Emily Graham (06:14): 

Me. I'm a closed caption- 

James Kotecki (06:14): 

That's just one simple- 

Emily Graham (06:15): 

... enthusiast. 

James Kotecki (06:15): 

... example, but it's another example of how it can be seemed politicized or scary, but really what it means is bringing more people into the conversation. 

Emily Graham (06:16): 

That's it. 

James Kotecki (06:23): 

And everybody benefits as a result. 

Emily Graham (06:24): 

Everyone does. Like I said, I'm a closed caption enthusiast. It helps me understand, but I also think closed captioning with language and accents and cultural nuance is something that's even more powerful with AI. 

James Kotecki (06:38): 

AI is obviously a focus. Maybe it's the focus of CES 2024. Are there other technologies here at this giant technology festival and celebration that you have your eye on as you look to the next year? 

Emily Graham (06:50): 

I am looking for everything that starts to enable those who have those hidden invisible disabilities. I'm looking forward to going to the convention center and walking around and seeing all of that technology. I think that's really, really important. AI is so focused right now on the things we can see, but there's so much that we can't see. 

James Kotecki (06:50): 

So much of a visual component. 

Emily Graham (07:10): 

There's so much we can't see in disability and bias that I think we need to think about. 

James Kotecki (07:14): 

I'd like to do a fill in the blank exercise, if we could? 

Emily Graham (07:19): 


James Kotecki (07:19): 

And take this however you want, but 2024 will be the year of blank. 

Emily Graham (07:24): 

Radical collaboration. When I say that, I mean people you don't know that don't think like you, that don't look like you. In order for us to solve really bad, hard problems, we've got to radically collaborate. We've got to break down the silos of what we're used to and we have to get used to rubbing elbows with and bringing people to the table that are different than us. It's going to be important. 

James Kotecki (07:47): 

And maybe to the extent that you are even in an argument about the efficacy of DEI, is that how you win the argument by just pragmatically collaborating with folks and actually bringing results- 

Emily Graham (07:48): 


James Kotecki (07:59): 

... to the table as opposed to just getting into a semantic? 

Emily Graham (08:02): 

You know what people like to do? They just want to have a seat. People want to be seen and they want to be heard, and I have found that across any identity. They just want a seat at the table, so I invite them to sit down with me and let's get the Play-Doh and let's do it together because that's the way we're going to solve some of the problems. 

James Kotecki (08:18): 

How much of your particular day is spent internally within Omnicom and how much of it are you dealing with clients? How does that balance out in your role? 

Emily Graham (08:25): 

Tomorrow I'm going to be on the stage with our clients, L'Oréal, and partner and Google. 

James Kotecki (08:31): 

L'Oreal keynoting here at CES as well. 

Emily Graham (08:33): 

Exactly, right. So that's one example. But then, today I spent time with some of our agencies, some of our shareholders, so I get to do bit of both. I love that because I believe being integrated with our clients is really what unlocks the potential for us to make DE&I really work. 

James Kotecki (08:48): 

Is there something outside of your industry that inspires you? 

Emily Graham (08:51): 

I was just talking about this. So I watched about a three-minute segment on Instagram today from a momfluencer who was nine months pregnant, and she walked people through her postpartum drawer in her bathroom. I'm not pregnant. 

James Kotecki (09:08): 

Like what she was preparing for, for- 

Emily Graham (09:10): 

That she was preparing for and it was fascinating to me that everyday people can become micro influencers and really just be authentic. If there's a theme... If I have a second word to fill in the blank about what 2024 is? 

James Kotecki (09:23): 


Emily Graham (09:23): 

It's about authenticity: just real simple people. I was so captivated I spent 15 minutes reading the comments and watching her products. 

James Kotecki (09:34): 

It's enriching to get into someone else's head (right?), even if that's not the experience that you're having. 

Emily Graham (09:38): 

It's exactly what makes our world so rich and makes DE& I so important - getting in someone else's head. 

James Kotecki (09:45): 

Well, thanks for letting us get in your head for a few minutes. 

Emily Graham (09:48): 

Thank you. 

James Kotecki (09:48): 

Emily Graham of Omnicom, thank you so much. 

Emily Graham (09:48): 

All right. Thank you so much for having me. 

James Kotecki (09:50): 

Well, I hope you enjoyed that conversation from CES 2024. That's our show for now, but there's always more tech to talk about. Hit that YouTube subscribe button. Leave a comment, follow us on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, iHeartMedia, or wherever you're getting this show, and get more CES at ces.tech. That's C-E-S dot T-E-C-H. I'm James Kotecki talking tech on CES Tech Talk.