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Karen Blackett OBE

Karen is a proven business leader with a track record in creating vibrant cultures, energising teams and consistently delivering business growth and success. She is the UK country manager for WPP, the world’s largest marketing services group, and recently announced her additional role as incoming UK CEO at GroupM.

In June 2014, Karen received an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours and in November 2018 Karen won the Inspirational Leader category at the Ethnicity Awards.

Karen was appointed Race Equality Business Champion by the UK Prime Minister in 2018, and most recently as a Trustee of the new Sussex Royal Foundation.

Karen Blackett OBE

During the five years Karen was CEO at MediaCom, the agency’s staff evolved from 11% to 20% ethnic minorities. She launched an Apprenticeship Scheme for 18-24 year olds at MediaCom, working with Tim Campbell, MBE and The National Apprenticeship Service. She also started a new initiative called Inclusion@MediaCom, an internal program which has covered Authenticity, The Glass Wall and Mental Health and Wellbeing. As then President of industry charity NABS, Karen helped to organise their Diversity Panel. Karen speaks annually at the Media Business Course in Brighton which is focused on new joiners to the industry, and focuses on the business case for diversity detailing the responsibility of the industry to reflect Modern Britain in communications and content. Karen is co-chair of the Advertising Industry Diversity Taskforce along with Leo Rayman and Sarah Jenkins from Grey Advertising. In 2015 Karen was appointed by Sir Jeremy Heywood as one of four external advisors to help diversify the Civil Service, championing race. Her work in the government has also led to being asked to join the Business Diversity Group by Andrew Griffiths MP, leading Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. Karen sits on a variety of committees and boards across the Creative Industry, and speaks at a number of events and conferences championing diversity globally. In 2017 she was invited to be the Guest Editor of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, where she openly talked about diversity. Karen has been a judge for the Black British Business Awards since its conception and hosts the judging at the MediaCom offices. Karen recently appeared on the BBC’s The One Show, where she discussed her journey in the advertising industry where less than 5% of the leaders are from a BAME background.