“Time’s up,” the 4A’s (American Association of Advertising Agencies) boldly announced as it welcomed delegates to its 2019 Decisions 20/20 conference.

“We now need to address the issue of inclusion and create more receptive environments for people to grow their careers.”

It’s a rallying cry that is familiar to every sector of the marketing ecosystem – and agencies, brand marketers, and media owners have, in fact, made what the 4A’s termed “significant gains” in recruiting people of diverse backgrounds into entry-level positions.

But those new hires don’t stay. Lukeisha Paul, managing partner/head of diversity, equity and inclusion at GroupM, is an exception to that rule. But she also understands why agencies can pose a foreboding cultural adjustment for employees who come from diverse backgrounds.

“I had a conversation with a white gentleman about his definition of ‘diversity of thought,’” she recalled to the 4A’s audience assembled in suburban Washington, DC.