Diversity Action news is where we will highlight all of the admirable ACTion happening within our industry and signatory community, from recent hires to effective ACTions above and beyond the asks of the commitment.
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Thank you for your engagement with the Diversity Action Alliance. Can you let our readers know what about our commitment resonated the most with you and inspired your engagement?
Neil: We are at a transformative time in this country's history, where organizations and leader scan no longer ignore the work that needs to be done to advance DE&I and racial equality in America. This is playing out no differently in our industry,and the DAA offers an opportunity for leading communications organizations, such as the National Black Public Relations Society (NBPRS), to collaborate with other similar-minded groups to lead the change our industry needs.
What top three pieces of advice would you like to share with the communications industry around embracing and activating better DE&I initiatives?
Neil: Start by having purposeful dialogues and building meaningful relationships with your existing diverse employees. If you find that you have none, take that as a sign and begin contacting historically diverse organizations, such as Black colleges and universities, NBPRS and the Hispanic Public Relations Association to proactively diversify your recruitment pipeline. Secondly, have a development plan for all of your diverse employees – helping them clearly define their career goals and create a path for them to achieve those goals. Finally, make a bold move to show your commitment to diversity, such as immediately promoting and/or hiring a VP or higher-level diverse executive.
Of recruitment,retention and representation, where do we lack the most as an industry, and how can we correct that?
Neil: The industry has historically failed in all three of these areas. Our recruitment efforts don’t cast a wide enough net. Hiring managers are still relying on the same "familiar" networks from which to recruit and hire. The result: A continued pattern of hiring the same kinds of people year after year. And once diverse individuals are hired, executives and managers in this industry fail to create inclusive cultures in their companies where diverse individuals are welcomed, embraced, and given the opportunity to succeed. And most importantly, we lack diverse representation across the executive ranks of our industry, which leads to issues of diversity taking a back seat to other business objectives. We must quickly move to correct all these areas to enact true change.
Have you, or someone you know, made any conscious attempts to inspire change around DE&I? Are there any notable recent attempts made by an organization that has inspired you?
Neil: Over the past three months, I've made a conscious effort to make myself, and our organization, available to participate in conversations about DEI, particularly around developing actionable solutions for individuals and organizations. Additionally, this week NBPRS, in partnership with Media Frenzy, conducted a survey on the impact of Covid-19 on Black PR professionalsThe findings highlight the unique challenges faced by Black professionals during the pandemic, such as increased pressure to perform, additional stressors from the surrounding community, and increase in stress and a decline in productivity. It is my hope that this initiative gives leaders additional perspective and helps to further the dialogue around DEI within organizations.
What is the one actionable message that you want to leave your readers with today?
Neil: Now isn’t the time to stay on the sidelines about DEI. You need to be speaking up and offering solutions towards progress. Make a bold statement by hiring or promoting a diverse executive to your C-suite. Make sure that DEI is interwoven into your strategic planning for the last half of this year and for 2021. DEI equals ROI. It's about bringing this thinking to the communications business in 2020 and beyond.
Glover to Remain Executive Director
NEW YORK, September 30, 2020 - To help address DE&I gaps within public relations and strategic corporate communication organizations, members of the Diversity Action Alliance (DAA) are re-aligning roles and resources to help increase support and momentum behind the Alliance.
The DAA is a cross-industry coalition dedicated to increasing recruitment, retention and representation in management for people of color and other under-represented groups. The DAA Steering Committee includes representatives from leading organizations within the PR/strategic communication profession. They are all equal partners in the governance of the coalition: AMEC, ColorComm, Forum-Group, HPRA, ICCO, Institute for Public Relations, The LAGRANT Foundation, The Museum of Public Relations, NBPRS, NYWICI, Page, The Page Center, The Plank Center, PR Council, PRSA, and PRSA Foundation.
As part of the re-alignment:
· Page, PR Council and PRSA will serve as the primary financial supporters of the DAA and are expanding their efforts to engage senior leaders to improve DE&I within their organizations.
· Page will provide the primary in-kind support for the DAA, including back office, financial management and HR support(previously provided by PRSA Foundation).
· PR Council will mobilize agency CEOs and Chief Diversity Officers to advance DAA programming and strengthen D&I within PR firms.
· The Institute for Public Relations is driving efforts to help improve data transparency and track D&I progress in critical areas (i.e. recruitment, retention, representation in management) and providing part-time staffing support.
· PRSA Foundation, in partnership with PRSA, will concentrate its efforts on supporting students and new professionals.
“The DAA is appreciative to the PRSA Foundation for its primary role in helping to launch the Alliance and for the continued support and engagement that it will receive from PRSA, PRSSA and the Foundation,” said Alliance Co-Chair Pat Ford of the University of Florida. “Carmella Glover will continue as executive director of the DAA as her primary role and focus, with support from Page staff.” Glover previously served as Executive Director of the PRSA Foundation, but now will join Page as its part-time director of DE&I.
As its first initiative, the DAA has launched an effort to engage communications organizations to commit to adopting D&I best practices and to share their D&I data which will be included in an aggregated benchmark study via an annual survey led by the Institute for Public Relations. To date, more than 170 leaders of PR/communication departments and agencies have signed the Diversity Action Alliance Commitment on behalf of their enterprises. An additional 175 individuals have also signed on, making a personal commitment to the cause. The survey will include industry data on recruitment, retention and advancement at all levels, including representation in management, along with insights to help drive progress.
“This is just a start,” Glover said. “Ultimately, the success of DAA will be grounded in our industry’s ability to deliver meaningful and measurable results, specifically in recruiting and retaining diverse talent, and particularly in senior-level positions.”
Thank you for your engagement with the Diversity Action Alliance. Could you let our readers know what about our commitment resonated the most with you and inspired your engagement?
Kim: I love that the DAA commitment is summarized by the acronym ACT, which stands for Adopt, Champion and Track. We need less talk and more action on diversity, equity and inclusion - a business-critical issue, and I’m inspired that so many organizations across our industry, including the PR Council, are working together on DAA. This level of collaboration is unique to the PR industry and exactly what is called for to make the urgent progress the industry needs to advance DEI. When each participating organization and individual strives to be a role model for the industry, they can collectively inspire change and encourage thoughtful benchmarking systems for tracking industry-wide DEI progress.
What piece of advice would you like to share with the communications industry around embracing and activating better DE&I initiatives?
Kim: We all need to set aggressive, measurable goals for ensuring that the populations of our organizations mirror the markets we serve, build customized action plans to meet our goals and be 100% transparent about our benchmarks, goals, action plans and progress. Accountability is a key element that has been missing in past efforts.
Out of recruitment, retention and representation, where do we lack the most as an industry and how can we correct that?
Kim: I cannot pick just one. To quote Torod Neptune, we do a “deplorable job” across all three. Our recruitment efforts are too narrow in focus. HR teams are still relying on the same networks and, in some cases, do not reflect the level of diversity that we’d like to attract to the organization. Additionally, there is too often a clear lack of efforts to help retain diverse talent. Importantly, we need representation across leadership to champion DE&I and keep it front and center of the company’s business objectives. Clear goal-setting and commitment from every organization to have thoughtful programs in place – those that challenge an organization’s culture and traditional hiring practices – are needed to ensure that each step from recruitment through representation takes DEI into account.
Have you/ someone you know made any conscious attempts to inspire change around DE&I among your circle or colleagues? Alternatively, are there any notable recent attempts made by an organization around DE&I that has inspired you? Please provide an example.
Kim: Earlier this year, the PR Council released a statement to members acknowledging the killing of George Floyd and its impact on communities and employees. The message provided steps for PR to take to address employees, including how to communicate with people of color in your workplace and acknowledge their pain, assert their commitment to diversity & inclusion, and denounce racism to show that their organizations are committed to being anti-racist.
Our mandate is to help our members and we felt compelled, both personally and professionally, to take action. I was inspired by the great work of our D&I community leaders, who came together to deliver something that showcased the need for action, and served as a guide for what members could and should do as a start. I’m equally inspired by the very thoughtful action plans that many of our PR Council Member agencies have created and shared. The best are multi-faceted in their response to their unique situation, include leadership accountability, and are stamped with the agency’s creativity.
What is the one actionable message that you want to leave your readers with today?
Kim: I’m a huge fan of Ibram X. Kendi, who in How To Be An Antiracist urged readers to imagine an antiracist society and then help build a truly just and equitable society. The PR Council is constantly thinking about what antiracist agencies would look like and working to help to build them.
1. Leadership must understand “why” DEI programs are necessary & be ready to allocate resources
From my experience, I’ve learned that procuring buy-in cannot be solely based on the financial implications of not doing D&I. Leaders must: believe systemic oppression exists; care and understand why we are in this position today; and support action needed to make a demonstrable impact, through investments in time & money.
A huge issue, as we’ve seen in recent media reports, is senior executives being so far-removed from the issues affecting DEI, that they misinterpret the root causes. One example is with diverse hiring and the notion that there is a limited talent pool. We must take action to increase the database of candidates with the understanding that there are plenty of qualified diverse prospective employees; one must show intent with finding them. In some cases, we must be agile and revisit stringent qualifications to see where we can make adjustments that lead to greater access for prospective employees. Leaders have to support targeted recruitment efforts with the understanding behind why: marginalized groups have not had access to the same resources and opportunities due to systemic racism. This is crucial as we learn to hold hiring managers accountable to objective practices, rather than subjective, and increasing the candidates to select from is an important first step.
2. Change begins first with self-reflection: understand & address your own bias to truly be anti-racist
We must get comfortable with accepting that bias is inherent in all of us, even when we have the best of intentions. This doesn’t mean you act on it, but for true growth and allyship, we must be completely self-aware. For example, do you feel comfortable with your white male gay colleague, but discomfort with a trans POC? We need to understand that we have been socialized from a young age to believe what is the acceptable standard for appearance, behavior and social norms. We must get out of our comfort zones and move past this.
We also have to consider all marginalized groups: POC, generations, LGBTQi, people with disabilities, women, and even different shapes & sizes. For example, someone who has experienced ageism may not empathize with the issues affecting other groups, and a result could be a lack of emphasis with ensuring inclusivity for all. This needs to be a “we” vs “them” problem.
I’ll use myself as an example. I grew up in a diverse environment, where I saw my friends experience racism & prejudice, and was well-aware of white, cisgender privilege. As a result, I compartmentalized myself as “getting it,” when in fact, I was only exposed to the experiences of my close network of friends, who were predominantly Puerto Rican and Asian.
I also thought that addressing systemic racism and oppression in conversations with non-marginalized groups was enough. I now realize that I am a part of the problem and not the solution if I don’t educate myself on all issues and hold myself accountable to being an anti-racist.
3. DEI: Focus is on diversity, but lacks equity and inclusion
We cannot make diverse hires without implementing measurable outcomes for equity and inclusion. Otherwise, retention will suffer, you will see high turn-over, and not be successful in recruiting top talent. If we hire a young POC and they don’t see people who look like them earning senior roles, why would they feel this is a supportive environment conducive to career growth? I have a friend who is a first-generation immigrant and when discussing salary and the negotiation process for a role, she shared that she was raised to appreciate the opportunities her parents never had. An unintended outcome was her accepting initial job offers where the salaries were well below market value. This type of dialogue is crucial with leadership &those making job offers; companies need to be held accountable to fair and equitable pay practices.
Next comes inclusion: we need to keep an open dialogue loop with marginalized groups - listen more, talk less and take more action. It’s not enough to make assumptions that because there is no overt racism, that there are not underlying issues and micro-aggressions. All employees need to have a seat at the table. Studies show that even top performers don’t contribute to their full potential when they feel their voices aren’t heard.
We also should prioritize progress made on a company-wide level with achieving measurable DEI goals, before touting donations and awards.
There are so many resources available that I have yet to tap into. I’ll share what’s made an impact on my journey thus far.
● eCornell’s two-month D&I course
● Inclusiveness leadership training from experts in DEI such as Your Choice Coach & Bellatrix Group
● Speaking to friends & colleagues to be aware of the experiences people go through. If you don’t go through them yourself, you won’t ever know unless you ask.
● Get out of your bubble and put yourself in situations that are outside of your comfort zone.
● Work or travel abroad in local non tourist areas vs resorts.
In college, I spent a semester abroad in Spain and it made me self-aware to my own preconceived notions of “correct” social norms. My first few weeks living in Madrid were full of judgment. For example, I was accustomed to having more personal space when I rode subways and people tended to sit very close, which I found awkward. I wasn’t used to public displays of affection on the level I was seeing and associated this to be rude. The lightbulb went off when I realized that my initial discomfort with behaviors signaled something was wrong, and I changed my thought process to it being different and unfamiliar to me.
I also learned over time that while I was treated well, marginalized groups living and visiting the country had different experiences with racism. I asked questions to deepen my understanding of how some people were treated, and it really opened my eyes.
Bias really came full circle when I watched the news on different global networks and learned that what I had been exposed to vastly differs outside the US. The narrative greatly impacts your stance on issues and is not always black and white. I relate this to what we’re seeing today in news reports and on social media.
Before and after my travels to Spain, I’ve enriched my life through exposure to different cultures, which has increased my awareness of colorism and understanding microaggressions. We’ve been socialized to believe that lighter-skinned shades represent beauty, and many face biases from people both outside and within their own culture.
These resources have been eye-opening in my journey:
● The Opt-In podcast
● “A Day in the Life” experiences such as Martin Tettey’s blog post on being Black
Saviorism typically comes from a lack of empathy and is deeply rooted in sympathy. As an ally, you have to stand up for a struggle rather than make it about you. There are varying levels of saviorism – some that are so apparent and others where it’s covert.
I think the first step is addressing your own bias to ensure your actions are genuine. Non-marginalized groups have held power for so long, one must assess if a superiority complex is coming into play because of fear with losing power. This is very common and leads to performative allyship, which often addresses an issue at the surface level, while continuing oppressive practices of marginalized groups. I.e. Appoint a diverse hire without giving them the resources, environment, and psychological safety to succeed.
I’m just beginning my journey and not in a place to share concrete advice until I’ve met some of my goals. As I see it, a leader gains an understanding of cross-generational issues; is a curious, active listener; solicits input across all levels of an organization during regular check-ins; and is clear with intent.
Management needs to understand that we can’t just throw money into DEI, but rather, processes and procedures have to be in place to ensure we’re doing everything in our power to diversify the environment and make marginalized groups feel comfortable, supported and empowered to be their authentic selves. Additionally, we have to be mindful to the experiences with racism and prejudice that people go through outside the office on a daily basis, and use this to fuel our passion in making sure that coming to work is a safe space, with an inclusive environment.
WHEN: Thursday, October 29, 2020
The Diversity Action Alliance is hosting it's first virtual Signatory Informational on Thursday, October 29 at 2pm ET. Signatories, keep an eye on your email for a SAVE THE DATE and an invite will shortly follow. This will be the perfect opportunity to hear what your fellow DAA organizations are doing to accelerate their DEI efforts, get your DAA questions answered, and hear about the initiatives we have in store for you.
WHEN: October 26-29, 2020
ICON 2020: PRSA’s digital gathering of thought leaders, industry experts and partners in communication, public relations and marketing will deliver four days of innovation, insights, ideas, and inspiration directly to you at your location, no matter where you are in the world Oct. 26-29, 2020.
Register Here: https://www.prsa.org/conferences-and-awards/icon-2020
Join Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), virtually, for their annual Acheivement Benefit for SEO Scholars in San Francisco!
SEO Scholars San Francisco provides year-round supplemental academic classes, mentorship, experiential learning opportunities, and career exposure for underserved high school students in the Bay area.
Click here to purchase tickets and make a meaningful differences in student lives: https://lnkd.in/ecvCRVH
Join the Museum of PR for a special evening celebrating and discussing the role of public affairs in the U.S. Armed Forces—specifically the U.S. Navy—since World War II, as well as the effectiveness of strategic and tactical approaches of Department of Defense public affairs.
Click here to register for this free event and find out more information: https://www.prmuseum.org/navy