After months of internal controversy and public scrutiny over allegations of discriminatory working conditions and systemic racism, Condé Nast has appointed Yashica Olden as its first-ever global chief diversity and inclusion officer.
The Nashville native will report to Stan Duncan, chief people officer, at the international media company. Her first day is Oct. 26, and she’ll be based in New York. Olden will oversee DEI strategies across the company’s global portfolio of brands and divisions, which includes Vanity Fair, LGBTQ+ brand them, Vogue, Bon Appétit, Glamour and Pitchfork.
Olden has over two decades of experience serving in diversity and inclusion roles, including as executive director of inclusion and diversity on WPP’s global culture team; the global executive director of inclusion and diversity at Ogilvy; the senior adviser of diversity and inclusion at the United Nations World Food Programme in Rome; and a host of other DEI leadership roles in multiple countries.
Olden’s “wealth of experience” in leading diversity and inclusion strategies was noted by Duncan, who said he was looking forward to Olden’s “insight and counsel” to help “move our workplace culture forward.”
“As a company, we are committed to recruiting and developing a diverse and inclusive workplace, and as content creators it’s incredibly important that we have a team that has a broad range of perspectives and voices,” Duncan said.
Olden herself touted Condé Nast’s brands as shaping cultural conversations with the potential to bring “forward stories that influence the way that audience understand the world around them,” she said in an interview with Adweek, adding that she is excited to support editors and creatives by implementing a global inclusion strategy tailored to the nuances of each of the publisher’s 31 markets, which has holdings in China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Latin America, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Taiwan, the U.K. and the U.S.
Olden will establish a “diversity and inclusion strategy,” which she described as one of mutual understanding and listening, after a number of company leaders were accused of fostering discriminatory workplaces. Some of these problematic instances include the resurfacing of old xenophobic and sexist social media posts authored by former president of global growth strategy Oren Katzeff; old homophobic and racist tweets posted by former vp of video Matt Duckor; and old photographs of Adam Rapoport, former editor in chief of Bon Appétit, in brownface.
“I want to spend my first few weeks on the job really getting to know the different teams, brands and markets that comprise Condé Nast, and I want want to promote the idea that D&I isn’t just a team or function within HR—it’s something that must be embedded in everything we do,” she said. “As for our consumers and audiences, it’s so important that we have these conversations about our content and our people, and I respect them for holding us accountable. I think we can all expect some exciting, hopeful changes ahead.”