An OUTstanding Leader 

VMLY&R Leader Named an LGBTQ+ Role Model
Congratulations, Graham! LGBTQ+ Future Leaders List

Graham Smith, managing director of strategy and insights and a Ford Business Lead at VMLY&R, has been featured as a Future Leader in the 2022 OUTstanding LGBT+ Role Model Lists supported by Yahoo Finance.   

These global lists, presented by INvolve People, champion trailblazers who are driving positive change for LGBTQ+ employees globally.   

A Fearless Champion for LGBTQ+ within VMLY&R  

Graham volunteers his time within VMLY&R as global chair of our LGBTQ+ employee resource group. As one of its founding members, he played a pivotal role over the last three years in the exponential growth of LGBTQ+ from a small collaboration between its three originators to a 250-plus member group that spans 35 VMLY&R offices and 20 countries.   

Graham’s work helped lead VMLY&R to being named “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality” for two consecutive years, achieving a perfect score in the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Corporate Equality Index.    He collaborated with multiple departments in the modification of our agency policies to incorporate more protections for LGBTQ+ employees, which led to more expansive policies for trans employees including new transition guidelines.   Additionally, he led VMLY&R into its first-ever support of HRC’s Business Coalition for the Equality Act and Business Statement against Anti Trans legislation in Texas.  

Graham aided the creation of, and achieved global press for, our 2021 global PRIDE Month “Proud Pronoun Project” tool that enables individuals to select their own personal pronouns and produce a custom illustration to display on any platform.   He also led the team for in the origination of VMLY&R’s first celebrations of Coming Out Day and Transgender Week of Awareness.   

Most recently, Graham spearheaded WPP’s multi award-winning partnership with the Human Rights Campaign in support of the passing of the Equality Act. The Reality Flag campaign featured the American flag with 29 missing stars representing the 29 states that don’t offer comprehensive protections for LGBTQ+ people. In addition, with the Office of the New York Mayor, he helped lead the team that delivered the award winning ‘NYC Says Gay’ campaign in response to Florida Mayor Ron DeSantis abhorrent ‘Don’t Say Gay Bill’.  

Graham’s LGBTQ+ Leadership OUTside VMLY&R  

Graham is a regular speaker on LGBTQ+ issues most recently at New York’s Advertising Week and This Can Happen mental health conference. He is often found consulting and presenting to clients including Walgreens Boots Alliance and on Nestle US’ LGBTQ+ panel, and others with VMLY&R’s parent company, WPP.    

He is an originating member of WPP Unite North America, the LGBTQ+ employee resource group of WPP working tirelessly with colleagues and ERG members from VMLY&R, Wavemaker, BCW and Hogarth on the Reality Flag campaign.  

Outside of industry work and engagements, he is an avid field hockey and soccer player. Committed to his visions of a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive world, he’s made it his mission to integrate his values into the sport he loves.   In early 2021, Graham became a Equality, Diversity and Inclusion board member of England Hockey. He is co-captain of New York City Field Hockey Club’s men's team and a member of the NYC Ramblers, an LGBTQ+ soccer team.  

Graham is a 15 year veteran of VMLY&R / WPP and one of our most hybrid staffers with a diverse range of brand, customer and inclusion experience in roles ranging from strategy to operations to client engagement, which he couples with his DEI leadership to consult VMLY&R’s clients. 

Put Graham and VMLY&R to work for your organization 

The Inclusion Experience practice at VMLY&R is a strategic consultancy and executing partner that works with clients to bring about sustainable cultural change within their organizations. Inclusion Experience is a critical step towards creating connected brands and companies that are culturally sensitive, diverse, equitable and inclusive. 

Inclusion Experience focuses on proactive collaboration with client partners to generate amplified cultural awareness and racial equity. These changes are designed to create increased engagement with consumers, drive business growth, and ultimately generate positive impact across industries and communities.  

Click here to connect with Graham and the Inclusion Experience team. 


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