A Diversity Panel Isn't Enough, Says Essence's Associate Operations Director

Kai Deveraux Lawson on being in mixed company

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Kai Deveraux Lawson never anticipated a career in advertising. After working as a college rep for record labels, Lawson—now associate operations director at Essence—assumed her next step would be in the music industry.

Instead, a recruiter from Wunderman reached out about a junior project management position, which she started in June 2011.

“I was a complete fish out of water,” Lawson said, adding that she faced unfair assumptions that she was apathetic when really, she just needed mentorship to learn “how this business worked and what the expectations were.”

While she continued to gain industry knowledge and experience, she found that this attitude persisted.



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This story first appeared in the Sept. 30, 2019, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.