Our Leaders

Q&A with Kim Sample, President, PR Council

September 30, 2020

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.

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