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Diversifying the workplace one voice at a time with ADCOLOR

ADCOLOR founder Tiffany R. Warren has one mission — diversifying the workplace.

Recently, a California judge struck down a law mandating corporate diversity, a measure many believed was necessary to increase the numbers of underrepresented people in boardrooms. The time for industry leaders like Warren couldn’t come at a better time.

Warren is geared up to quite literally add diversity to the workplace. 

Her foundership and presidency of the non-profit community organization ADCOLOR have crafted a whole new vocabulary for the working world, leaving the days of monochrome sameness behind.

“I’m trying to make an army of accomplices so that we can shorten the time for equity,” Warren said.

Warren boasts new ideas in the name of diversity and inclusion. She designed newfound titles like her current Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer role at SONY which allowed her to break the mold within the age-old creative industry.

Have you ever thought about diversity and inclusion?

A question she constantly asks, spotlighting the pressing need for diversity. 

But if Warren was going to make a change, she was going to have to start from the bottom up. 

From sugar dots to FAFSA forms

“Enterprising behavior is in my blood,” Warren said.

The Boston native grew up with entrepreneurs all around her. She had her own versions of Oprah Winfrey and Jeff Bezos. 

Examples of tough love and resourcefulness gave Warren the perfect background to nurture a business mindset just as she entered her teenage years.

Rewind the clock to Warren’s fifth-grader self as she burst through the door boasting her co-valedictorian status. High fives from her cousins didn’t stop her Grandmother’s indifference.

“‘Okay, what’s next?’,” Warren said, recounting the rude awakening.

“I didn’t have a lemonade stand but … she was my greatest teacher,” Warren said about her early days in the business world. 

But Warren’s first taste of business training was unorthodox, to say the least.

From her Grandmother charging her 10 cents for sugar dot sweets, to her Mother that made a trade out of helping Warren’s friends. “[My mom] was a whiz,” as Warren was reflecting on her mom filling out FAFSA forms for incoming college hopefuls. 

The realization for the need of diversity in the workplace

The ADCOLOR founder was certainly no stranger to success. The high-achiever was consistently at the top of her class and graduated from Bentley University with a Liberal Arts degree. 

Yet Warren’s scholarship was rarely paired with a sense of inclusion, “I had been in rooms since pretty much the fourth grade, where I was one of two people of color,” Warren said. 

The business mogul always made sure to include herself in multicultural networks, through roles like her Presidency of Bentley University’s “Black United Body.”

The further up the career ladder Warren went the less diversity she saw. 

There was simply no place for Black, Asian, American Indian, and Native Hawaiian leaders and innovators.

So Warren took matters into her own hands. 

“That’s ADCOLOR magic” 

ADCOLOR has “become a verb and a noun … it’s in the hearts of people,” Warren said.

There’s a buzz going on within the creative industry, pushing ‘ADCOLOR’ into everyday vocabulary.

It’s an organization that’s a testament to the strength, power, and ingenuity within the black community. ADCOLOR brings attention to shining stars and their lack of inclusion. 

After ADCOLOR’s 2005 founding, Warren looked to pioneer the inclusion of black and brown workers in creative industries – especially those at the top of their game.  

ADCOLOR aims to be the torchbearer of diversifying the workplace

“I have it a lot easier because of Martin Luther King. I have it a lot easier because of Coretta Scott King and Malcolm X,” Warren said with a subtly confident smile radiating across her face at how she herself is going to push the history of black greatness that little bit further… 

ADCOLOR is renowned for its annual awards show. Every year they honor newcomers, rising stars, and seasoned experts.

Additionally, their conferences allow critical voices in the creative sectors to rise up. 

It’s like a blueprint. “If people can see it then they can be it,” Warren said.

“When I launched, people actually told me that I would run out of people to honor in three years,” the ADCOLOR founder said about the doubt and alarming lack of diversity people believed there to be.

However, 2022 will see the 16th and 17th anniversary of the ADCOLOR Conference and Awards respectively, smashing previous expectations out of the water.

Despite starting out as just a conference, ADCOLOR now boasts several different facets that make it stand out from the rest. 

ADCOLOR Futures and ADCOLOR Leaders have innovated the way ADCOLOR operates, leaning into the organization’s motto of “rise up and give back.”

Futures acts as a “true family,” Warren said. The program allows for young individuals at the precipice of their careers to excel.

While the Leaders program is a pillar for the experienced without support. “Even at EVP, I’m still a learner. I’m still curious,” Warren said. The program seeks to give its members even more of what they already have: experience. 

All the initiatives behind ADCOLOR add a greater richness to diversifying the workplace.

“When I go back to my office, and I’m one of two, I know that I have a whole army that’s behind me [now],” Warren said, “that’s ADCOLOR magic … it’s like my mantra.” 

The grind doesn’t stop

ADCOLOR and the founder won’t stay complacent. 

“I create, I make it happen and then I keep it moving,” said Warren.

The mogul’s accolades are tough to keep track of.

From Broadway co-producer and TONY winning hopeful, Warren’s “Thoughts of A Colored Man” graced the stage for 76 shows. Alongside ADCOLOR’s Emmy nomination, where she produced a concert in partnership with CMG and Wyclef Jean.

Warren seems to dominate whatever creative industry she feels like taking a spin at.    

Boasting her 25th year in the Equality and Inclusion sector, the SONY EVP is mindful of keeping her humility.  

The assignment still remains.

“Staying humble and staying hungry and staying on assignment,” Warren said are her mental go-tos whenever she gets overwhelmed by the success stories already behind her.

Warren is aware of the role she was given.

“I’m not being punched or kicked or hosed,” like her freedom-fighting predecessors, Warren said. Her mission? Diversifying the workplace for all. She won’t be distracted by personal wins and will keep fighting the fight.  

Letting go of your baby, or bringing it on stage

Despite Warren’s accomplished portfolio, her biggest success has nothing to do with diversity or business at all. 

It’s letting her loved ones shine first.

“My biggest achievement is being a really great aunt,” Warren said. The businesswoman has brought her niece on stage at the end of every ADCOLOR Awards to say goodnight since she was two years old.

“I just love her so much and I look forward to seeing her become the woman I know she’s gonna be,” Warren said.

Letting others take the spotlight always came with ease. Still, letting go of her life’s work wasn’t natural.

“‘I only know what is right for ADCOLOR!’,” Warren said, mocking how tightly she used to hold on to her bundle of joy before she was able to let the micromanaging go. 

“[Now] it’s making sure that everybody at the table has a point of view,” Warren said – reflecting on ADCOLOR’s past eight years of passing the torch onto the next set of visionaries. 

The Diversity and Inclusion expert now sees herself in the role of mentor, taking inspiration from Tupac, Warren “‘may not change the world, but [hopes to] inspire the person that will’.”

The wins Warren has under her belt have changed the world of diversity and inclusion, but the entrepreneur will not give in. 

She will continue to make a change and diversify the workplace.

One classroom, work office, telecast list, and Grammy nomination at a time.

ADCOLOR “is a movement,” Warren said.