CHC News

Industry Person of the Year Sharon Callahan: Time’s Up Advertising Supports Women, Diversity

April 24, 2018 – When Sharon Callahan, Chief Client Officer, Omnicom, and CEO, TBWA\WorldHealth, was approached by a small group of women in advertising to support the start of a Time’s Up Advertising movement, she didn’t hesitate to sign an open letter putting  industry on notice that sexual harassment is not okay.

“There were 14 original women who approached the Hollywood Time’s Up group and said, could we join forces with you and join your movement? That’s how Time’s Up Advertising was launched,” Callahan told the Coalition for Healthcare Communication, where she is an executive committee member and chair emeritus. “The original group asked other women in the industry to sign the letter, saying ‘time is up and sexual harassment and unequal treatment of women in our industry won’t be tolerated any longer.’”

The letter that Callahan signed states that “As women in senior leadership positions in advertising, we’ve agreed that we have the power to change this business we love until it looks more like the industry we want to lead.” Further, the letter, which now includes 200 signatories, states the group’s mission: “To drive new policies, practices, decisions, and tangible actions that result in more balanced, diverse and accountable leadership; address workplace discrimination, harassment, and abuse; and create equitable cultures within our agencies.”

According to Callahan, this movement is important to the advertising industry “because diversity is important to the industry – not just diversity of race or gender, but diversity of thought. If people don’t feel safe working for our industry or don’t feel they can advance as they could in other industries, then we’ve got a really big problem.”

Callahan explained that the movement is evolving to include lobbying, legal work and town halls (one is scheduled for May 14 in several cities: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Toronto), “where some of us will be speaking about how important it is to have equal representation in leadership positions, especially in pay, in this business. Being a woman, and being a woman leading an agency, I feel really strongly about this, but I think it is everybody’s issue.”

She noted that bottom line, the goal is “to make it safe for women to bring these issues forward and to have them investigated, to have companies develop policies that they enforce, and to not tolerate some of the things that have been happening.” To learn more about Time’s Up Advertising, go to

At the 29th Annual Manny Awards held April 19, Med Ad News named Callahan “Industry Person of the Year.”

“It was a total honor to be recognized by my own industry – I felt it was really great to be ‘person’ of the year, not ‘woman’ of the year, not that there is anything wrong with the woman of the year organization, but in medical advertising there aren’t that many woman who have a similar role to me,” she said.

“I have spent a lot of my career being involved in the industry – I was president of the HBA [Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association] twice and I have really championed women, and it feels good to be able to show people how successful you can be, just by being yourself and doing a great job.”

To hear more from Callahan, who is speaking on a CEO panel at the third annual Coalition for Healthcare Communication Rising Leaders Conference on Healthcare Policy, held May 22-23 in Washington, D.C., register today by e-mailing Jack Angel at or by calling 203-561-6902. For more information about the conference, go to: