Icons, RockStars, & Innovators: Heide Gardner

What makes you an Icon?

Your authentic and influential leadership style that has contributed to your trailblazing career success. You have broken barriers, overcome adversity, and as a result, are a role model to many.

Heide is the first woman of color to serve on the IPG senior management team as an elected corporate officer and is also one of the first C-Suite Chief Diversity Officers in Fortune 500 companies. Since 2003, when she joined the global holding company, Heide’s brief has included stewardship of IPG’s award-winning diversity and inclusion agenda internationally, the operations of the D&I group and strategic industry initiatives such as the global UN Women Unstereotype Alliance, for which Heide has served as a founding Deputy Vice Chair. Her contributions have been acknowledged with many honors including a place on the roster of AdAge’s lineup of the century’s Most Influential Women.

Heide came to IPG after having established a track record as an award-winning marketer, lobbyist and creative for leading global brands who transitioned to focus on industry level diversity and inclusion issues such as advertising business practices, government relations and talent development for the American Advertising Federation (AAF). While at AAF, she represented the industry to the White House, Congress and federal agencies, helping to win a 2000 Presidential Executive Order to increase contract awards for multicultural agencies and media. Heide also launched AAF’s legacy diversity initiatives including the AAF Most Promising Multicultural Students program and engaged the CMOs and CEOs of many of the world’s largest advertisers, agencies and media companies to collaborate on the original AAF Mosaic Principles and form the Mosaic Center.

Over the years Heide, IPG’s Chairman and CEO, Michael Roth, and the company have been recognized for influencing not only the culture within IPG, but also the industry and even the overall field of diversity and inclusion. She has been a pioneer in the applications of data and analytics, a champion of research to inform strategy and an agent behind IPG’s recognition for engaging with “big thinkers” and scholars in many fields. IPG launched the Cannes Lions festival focus on gender equality in 2011 and their annual breakfast is now a marquis event. IPG also formally introduced the concept of intersectionality to the industry in 2014 during the festival, with research on women of color and identity in five countries. Under Heide’s stewardship IPG partnered with the Ad Club of New York to present the industry’s first focus on Black women. Her sponsorship and hands-on involvement in steering critical research projects have been instrumental in improving companies’ capacities for progress, Center for Talent Innovation studies on the role of bias in assessment of potential and innovation, the impact of corporate responses to current events affecting race, and a landmark study on Black talent in corporate America. IPG’s inclusion innovations, and Michael Roth’s swift and strong stands on the issues, have been featured in major trade and business press as well as the Harvard Business Review, Profiles in Diversity Journal and research reports from The Center for Talent Innovation.

Heide’s many honors include the AdColor Change Agent; AAF Industry Career Achiever, the Mount Holyoke College Alumni Achievement Award; Black Enterprise Top Executives in Diversity and a DiversityBestPractices/Working Mother Media Diversity Officer Leadership Award

Follow Heide on Twitter @heide_gardner and find her on LinkedIn!


The ACNY Foundation is proud to recognize outstanding industry professionals, during our 3rd Annual Black History Month recognition series titled, “Icons, Rock Stars & Innovators”.

It is our way of shining the spotlight on exemplary talent, integral to the evolution and growth of the advertising industry. Each day during Black History Month we profile a selected “Icon, Rock Star & Innovator” across all our digital platforms. In addition, our partnership The Gradient & Mixed Company podcast, allows for our programming to further extend throughout the industry; introducing and promoting these luminaries to new audiences. Meet Heide and the others on February 26th, 2020 at our “Icons,Rock Stars, & Innovators” Recognition event. Follow the series on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!

Meet our illustrious lineup of “Icons, Rockstars, & Innovators” on February 26, 2020. RSVP here: https://bit.ly/31q13Pc

Take a peek at last year’s event.

P.S. Check out our other content from previous years

2019 – Online Exhibition

2019 – Icons, RockStars, & Innovators

2018 – Icons, RockStars, & Innovators


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