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Millennials, Diversity & Inclusion in the PR Industry


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There is much discussion in the PR and communication industry about the role and impact of the millennial generation on the workforce and workplace culture. Research shows that millennial communication professionals (MCPs) are the most diverse and socially and politically engaged generation to date, and that they expect organizations to be diverse and inclusive. However, there is a gap between desires and expectations, and how to actually achieve these conditions. This slideshow was featured in a webinar, hosted by The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations. The webinar focused on research about the experiences of MCPs, and specifically addressed the following:

- What does research tell us about MCPs and their views on diversity and inclusion?
- How do minority MCPs manage cultural perceptions – their own and those of others about them? What can this teach us about unconscious bias, stereotyping and how to avoid pigeon-holing of minority MCPs?
- What can be done, on the individual level and the organizational level, to actualize workplace cultures that are open, diverse, supportive and inclusive? How can MCPs work with other generations towards this goal?

Presenters included:

Dr. Bruce Berger, Professor Emeritus of Advertising & Public Relations, University of Alabama
Aerial Ellis, Instructor of Public Relations, Lipscomb University
Dr. Juan Meng, Associate Professor of Public Relations, University of Georgia
Sarah Elise Vasquez, Brand Intern at Edelman (Los Angeles)

Moderated by: Leah Seay, Assistant Manager, Public Policy Communications, General Motors

Published in: Education
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Millennials, Diversity & Inclusion in the PR Industry

  1. 1. Millennials, Diversity and Inclusion in the PR Industry
  2. 2. Aerial Ellis Sarah Vasquez Dr. Juan Meng Dr. Bruce Berger Leah Seay Meet The Presenters
  3. 3. How Millennial Leaders Have Redefined Diversity & Inclusion Aerial Ellis Instructor, Lipscomb University
  4. 4. Imagine a world where everyone’s ideas are valued — where risks are taken to support high-potential, dynamic leaders as they realize their dreams and solve problems within their communities.
  5. 5. Culture is a way of life. Culture is organic. Culture emerges.
  6. 6. The globalization of business, music, education, politics, social media and even the recent #BlackLivesMatter movement has taken hold and our patterns of competence, communication and consumption have shifted dramatically.#
  7. 7. Why?
  8. 8. Why?
  11. 11. The term ‘millennial’ applies to individuals who reached adulthood around or after the turn of the 21st century born between 1980 and 1995. Known as Generation Y, millennials directly follow Generation X as the last generation born in the 20th century. Today, there are 1.7 billion millennials making up one-third of the global population. They are defined as an “ethnically diverse generation who are team players, optimistic, confident, trusting of authority, rule-followers, achievers in school,and generally achievement-oriented in everything they undertake.” (Howe and Strauss, 1992)
  12. 12. • Silent Generation (b. 1928-1945) • Baby Boomer Generation (b. 1946-1964) • Generation X (b. 1965-1979) • Generation Y/Millennials (b. 1980-1995/2000?) • Generation Z/Digital Natives (b. 1996 - 2012)
  13. 13. ACCORDING TO US CENSUS BUREAU STATISTICS… there are more than 80 million millennials in America. Millennials are the largest generation in history. Millennials will make up an estimated 75% of the workforce by 2025, ultimately changing the face of organizational leadership.
  14. 14. Organizational leaders are becoming increasingly concerned that they soon will be unable to find the talent they need to succeed, with a shortage of suitably skilled workers as the single biggest worry. Businesses are competing fiercely for the best available talent to replace the retiring boomers in the upcoming years. Every year, more and more of that talent will be recruited from the ranks of millennials.
  15. 15. WHY MILLENNIALS MATTER • Reason 1: Millennials are critical to organizational success and sustainability • Reason 2: Millennials can quickly learn the ropes then come for the boss’s job • Reason 3: Millennials have options. We can decide we don’t want to work for someone • Reason 4: Without millennials, organizations will start to wane.
  16. 16. MILLENNIALS ARE LEADING A CULTURAL SHIFT A culture shift in the population shows that 60% classifying as non-Hispanic white in comparison to 70% of the previous generation. Of millennials in the US, 59% are white and 27% have immigrant backgrounds. The ethnic profile of the millennial is far more blended that than of previous generations. There are millennials who come from an increased percentage of single-parent homes and blended families.
  17. 17. MILLENNIALS NEED EXPRESSION AND ACCEPTANCE Millennials are much more concerned about diversity of thoughts, ideas and philosophies with an unending curiosity to understand differences and explore opportunities for collaboration. This means organizations are forced to rethink and redefine their approach. The millennial generation has compelled organizations to consider a combination of unique traits to overcome challenges and achieve business goals as the diversity of experience and the inclusion of thought become increasingly more crucial to future innovation.
  18. 18. MILLENNIALS COMMAND INCLUSION & INNOVATION As millennials move into leadership, a transformation in traditional diversity and inclusion models will challenge past approaches and break barriers that have hindered the progress. Connectedness is part of the millennial’s DNA and breeds the kinds of transformation organizations will command. This generation is a likely catalyst to show how advocacy, learning, and leadership can collectively leverage opportunities to see greater inclusion and innovation.
  19. 19. Resources Voice Power
  20. 20. LESSONS OF LEADERSHIP 1. Career, Entrepreneurship, Intrapreneurship 2. Problem Solving, Disruption, Innovation 3. Ambition, Decision Making, Goal-Setting 4. Influence, Access, Creativity 5. Profit, Passion, Purpose 6. Faith, Meditation, Mindfulness
  21. 21. Perception in the workplace Sarah Vasquez Brand Intern, Edelman (Los Angeles)
  22. 22. Hi, I’m _______.
  23. 23. WHAT’S IN A FIRST IMPRESSION? • 38% of what makes up a first impression is how you sound • 55% of a first impression is based off of physical appearance • 7% of a first impression are the words you say
  27. 27. Confident | Connected | Open to Change Juan Meng, Ph.D., University of Georgia Millennial Communication Professionals (MCPs) in the Workplace
  28. 28. MILLENNIALS DEFINE DIVERSITY DIFFERENTLY “Millennials are more likely to define diversity as pertaining to the individual mix of unique experiences, identities, ideas, and opinions.” “Diversity is a variety of cultures and perspectives working together to solve business problems.” Source: The Radical Transformation of Diversity and Inclusion: The Millennial Influence, Deloitte, 2016
  29. 29. MILLENNIALS ALSO DEFINE INCLUSION DIFFERENTLY “When it comes to defining inclusion, Millennials focus primarily and extensively on teaming, valuing a culture of connectivity, and using collaborative tools to drive business impact.” “To me, inclusion is “all individuals and their uniqueness to move toward a group-involved, group-directed action and conclusion.” Source: The Radical Transformation of Diversity and Inclusion: The Millennial Influence, Deloitte, 2016
  30. 30. OUR APPROACH: TWO ONLINE SURVEYS • Self-perceptions of MCPs (n=420) vs. Perceptions of MCPs by MGRs (n=420) • Studied: Workplace values and attributes, engagement, leadership capabilities, leadership development, recruitment and retention drivers, careerism
  31. 31. KEY QUESTIONS ASKED IN THE STUDY Workplace values and attributes Engagement Leadership capabilities Leadership development Recruitment and retention drivers Careerism
  32. 32. WE ALL AGREED THAT WE VALUE DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION! % agree with statement MCPs MGRs Value diversity of people at work 87.5% 81.2% Value work-life quality more than income 71.4% 60.3% Very supportive of social causes and socially responsible companies 84.1% 82.8% Prefer working in teams 57.8% 67.1%
  33. 33. MCPS VS. MGRS ON DIVERSITY & INCLUSION 5.97 5.21 5.73 4.67 5.65 4.69 5.56 4.98 4 4.5 5 5.5 6 6.5 7 I value diversity of people at work. I value work-life quality more than income. I am very supportive of social causes and socially responsible companies. I prefer working in teams, rather than working alone. MCPs MGRs
  34. 34. FEMALE AND MALE MCPS HAVE DIFFERENT PERCEPTIONS 6.11 5.21 5.86 4.6 5.71 5.2 5.47 4.82 4 4.5 5 5.5 6 6.5 7 Value diversity of people at work Value work-life quality more than income Very supportive of social causes and socially responsible companies Prefer working in teams Females Males
  35. 35. THE ROLE OF DIVERSITY IN RECRUITMENT % agree with statements MCPs MGRs It seemed to be a very socially- responsible organization. 74.6% 69.9% It seemed to offer a balanced work- life approach. 82.4% 75.4 It appeared to have a very open and positive culture. 85.2% 79.9%
  37. 37. ORGANIZATION’S RETENTION EFFORTS IN DIVERSITY AS PERCEIVED BY MCPS AND MGRS % agree with statements MCPs MGRs My organization has made efforts to support a balanced work-life approach. 79.1% 80.7% My organization has made efforts to embody an open and positive organizational culture that values diversity. 82.1% 86.7% My organization has made efforts to engage in socially-responsible strategies and programs. 77.1% 77.8%
  38. 38. EFFORTS HAVE BEEN MADE. IMPROVEMENTS ARE EXPECTED. 5.52 5.61 5.4 5.46 5.68 5.38 Supports a balanced work-life approach Embodies an open and positive organizational culture that values diversity Engages in socially-responsible strategies and programs MCPs
  39. 39. How MCPs & PR Teams Can Boost Diversity and Inclusion in Their Organizations Bruce K. Berger, Ph. D. Professor Emeritus, University of Alabama
  40. 40. A CHANGE MANAGEMENT PERSPECTIVE 1. MCPs value diversity, inclusion, transparency, community…more so than bosses 2. D&I is a generational value…but cultural change is the bigger issue 3. Change management focuses on moving from: -- Desired change to realized change -- 4. MCPs/PR teams can lead D&I by being the change: --Individual level --Functional/organizational level
  41. 41. CHANGE MANAGEMENT: WHAT WE KNOW 1. Change is a constant condition in ORGs: --Technologies: impact on markets, publics, COMMs --Demographics: needs for D&I, engagement, top talent --World tensions: politics, distrust, incivility, privacy issues 2. 75% of strategic change plans fail 3. The 20–60–20 rule still applies 4. The productivity gap persists: cycle time for change Announce change Enact change GAP People must learn of change, understand it, believe in it, and act on it. Communication shortens time to do so—reduces the productivity gap
  42. 42. SUCCESSFUL CHANGE MANAGEMENT Three foundation stones: 1. Leaders No leader support? No real change! 2. Communications Can’t over communicate if do it right. 3. Organizational cultures The BIG culture question: Enable, impede or block? Change management is primarily about the people side of change. The emotional side of change is difficult to overestimate. Craig Pearce
  43. 43. PR LEADERS ARE CHANGE AGENTS “The best communicators are agents of change— responsible change to enable our institutions to serve better. And in the process to fulfill and balance responsibilities to customers and clients, owners, employees, and the community of which we’re a part.” (Betsy Plank, 1984)
  44. 44. HOW CAN MCPS DRIVE D&I CHANGE? 1. Individual level Tell compelling stories* • Understand, link to real issues • Construct a rich D&I narrative --Vision + real benefits for ORG --Case examples, success stories, best practices Tell stories compellingly • Build interpersonal skills (listening, emotional IQ) • Find, polish your story voice (1-5-10 minutes) *Walt Fisher’s (1978) narrative paradigm. Power of stories, emotions vs. data. Coherent and credible stories touch emotions—the people side of change.
  45. 45. HOW CAN PR TEAMS DRIVE D&I? 2. Functional/organizational level Model the way in the unit • Unit profile is D&I • Treatment fair, respectful to all • Speaking up—no fear of retribution • Empowerment’s real Push back on ORG culture • Assess communication climate, system • Identify cultural, structural barriers • Create culture for communication: D&I framework
  46. 46. CULTURE FOR COMMUNICATION Qualities of this culture vCommunication embraced vListening valorized vDecision-making shared vMGRS, supervisors empowered vIdeas, POVs shared w/o fear of retribution v2-way, multiple channels used vParticipative vs. authoritative vNon-bureaucratic systems and processes in place What is vs. what might be in communication- centered organizational culture
  47. 47. KEYS TO DRIVING D&I IN ORGS 1. View D&I as cultural change issue 2. Believe it: MCPs/PR teams can be the change 3. Model the way as a team 4. Tell compelling stories…compellingly 5. Push back on culture and structure 6. Create a culture for communication
  48. 48. Questions.
  49. 49. Thank You.