Michael Sneed, CCO and EVP of Global Corporate Affairs at Johnson & Johnson, Shares Diverse Voices Insights
New York Book Launch: Increasing Diversity in PR
Michael Sneed, Executive Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs, and Chief Communication Officer for Johnson & Johnson, is one of 40 extraordinary communicators featured in the new book Diverse Voices. He spoke with Doug Simon, CEO at D S Simon Media, about achieving career success while bringing diversity to an organization. The interview took place during the New York book launch of Diverse Voices, which was held at Twitter. The new book from the PRSA Foundation is designed to help communication leaders and professionals better understand the challenges faced by emerging majorities in the field. Michael discusses why now is potentially the best time to be a diverse talent. To purchase Diverse Voices, visit www.diverseleadership.net
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Emile Lee, Dun & Bradstreet
Brenden Lee, Twitter
Yanique Woodall, The Home Depot
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DOUG: Welcome. I’m Doug Simon from D S Simon Media. I’m here at the New York Book Launch of Diverse Voices, with a special guest Michael Sneed CEO and EVP Global Communications for Johnson & Johnson. His story is featured in the book. Congratulations and thanks for joining us.
MICHAEL: Thank you.
DOUG: Yeah, it’s really impressive. Can you maybe share a bit of your own story, some of the obstacles you had to overcome to achieve the obvious success that you’ve had?
MICHAEL: Yeah, yeah, look, it’s like anything. You come into an industry and you may not have any type of reputation, you’re not well known. So, you have to come and overcome just the natural biases that people may have. And so I really focused on this trying to do the best job I could do. I understand that it’s a long-term play. I understand that you’re going to learn a whole lot and then make sure that you don’t make the same mistake twice. And along the way, really really push yourself to get critical feedback in terms of what I was doing well but also how I can do that right. And so those are some of the things I always keep in mind.
DOUG: Yeah and you’ve made an effort obviously understanding the world we’re living in to have a workforce that looks more like the world as a whole. How important is that and how do you get there?
MICHAEL: Yeah, we do. We know we serve a broad customer base, you know globally in terms of Johnson and Johnson. I think it’s two things. I think it’s a mindset in terms of real leadership from the top. And then there is the actions that we actually take from the ground up in terms of training, in terms of cultural awareness, in terms of making sure people understand the business imperative behind diversity and inclusion. So, I think it goes both directions in terms of making sure that you’re moving the organization in the right direction.
DOUG: And that’s excellent. Now, advice for younger people or even in the middle managers who bring diversity to an organization but want to get to the next level?
MICHAEL: Yeah, I think first of all, you should understand that being a diverse individual today I think is a huge advantage. You have some built in advantages because you have that cultural competency that organizations are looking for today. Second of all, it’s still about performance. So, making sure that you are still performing as in the best way possible. But when you add the performance and you add the fact that you have a certain level of cultural competency, that’s what you should really focus on and let people know that. And I think that’ll allow you to continue to progress.
DOUG: Can you share some of the importance of the book? One thing that I’ve taken from it is with all the talk, especially in communications, how we need to increase diversity, a lot of stories have amazing people who’ve succeeded at extraordinary levels that anyone can learn from. What did it feel like for you to be part of this elite group?
MICHAEL: Yeah, it’s obviously very humbling, but I’m just one of many. And even though we highlighted 40 or so people in the book, you know there’s hundreds of people out there who are doing great work and I think part of the part of the reason we did the book is to say look there are wonderful people and there are excellent people, but there are lots of people behind us who are well fortified and are coming up through the ranks. And people hopefully, when they read the book, it will raise their awareness around that phenomena.
DOUG: And I think it’s really important that people of all backgrounds really read and explore, understand because their tips for greatness and achieving success that work across the board regardless of your situation.
MICHAEL: It’s about leadership and leadership in a multicultural world today. And I think to be a great leader in today’s environment you need to have that ability to lead multicultural, lead as well as globally, because the combination of all of the customers we serve and the patients we serve are changing very rapidly. And to be able to navigate that and actually thrive in that environment that’s the mark of a true leader.
DOUG: And it’s not just that change is coming, change is here.
MICHAEL: You know that the general market today is the multicultural market. Right, so there’s very little difference now going forward.
DOUG: Awesome. Thanks for being with us again. Congratulations on being featured. Great information.
MICHAEL: Great. Thanks Doug.
D S Simon Media is proud to donate its services in support of the Diverse Voices Initiative.