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Promoting Diversity & Inclusion Excellence


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How can you or your PRSSA chapter help support a stronger public relations profession? As future public relations leaders, you “set the tone for diversity and inclusion.” It’s up to you and your members to be “involved, accountable, and focused on creating an inclusive culture.”

The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations is co-hosting a webinar with PRSSA titled, “Promoting Diversity & Inclusion Excellence.” Diversity and inclusion is an important topic across many industries, especially public relations.

From examining previous research to understanding how top organizations are moving the D&I dial, this webinar will equip you and your chapter with key takeaways that can be implemented today to serve tomorrow’s public relations leaders.

The webinar featured experts who discussed their diversity and inclusion research, observations, and experience. The experts were:

- Keith Burton, principal, Grayson Emmett Partners
- Andrew Cook, VP of Advocacy, PRSSA 2016-2017
- Pat Ford, worldwide vice chair, chief client officer, Burson-Marsteller
- Dr. Nilanjana Bardhan, professor, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale

Published in: Education
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Promoting Diversity & Inclusion Excellence

  1. 1. Andrew Cook VP of Advocacy, PRSSA Nilanjana Bardhan, Ph.D. Professor, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale Pat Ford Worldwide Vice Chair & Chief Client Officer, Burson-Marsteller Keith Burton Principal, Grayson Emmett Partners
  2. 2. PROMOTING DIVERSITY & INCLUSION EXCELLENCE TOWARDS 2020 • The role of the Plank Center as an important resource for students, educators & professionals • Key takeaways from PRSSA’s 2016 Diversity Month, PRSSA National Conference • Working in an ever-changing, global multicultural world • Practicing “acquired diversity” to drive new perspectives for the future • Listen, engage, share • Tweet using #PRDiversity
  3. 3. PROMOTING DIVERSITY & INCLUSION EXCELLENCE DRIVING D&I IN OUR PROFESSION • The lessons of Betsy Plank & how they influence our mission • Our role as a catalyst for driving diversity & inclusion • Plank Center D&I Subcommittee, D&I Advisors • Why research, case studies & best-in-class practices matter • Working in a world where our differences bring strength • What we need from you as future leaders
  4. 4. PROMOTING DIVERSITY & INCLUSION EXCELLENCE WHAT IS DIVERSITY? • Equal respect for & treatment of differences – with race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality the primary categories. • Diversity not restricted to these categories – also includes religion, disability, veteran status, nationality, social class & many more. • Progressive definitions of diversity are necessary. • Research, trade press coverage shows the primary focus in diversity in PR has been on race/ethnicity and gender, with a growing interest in sexualities. • Diversity should be seen as being organic to PR profession & consistent with the philosophy & process, not just an add-on or supported for compliance. • Real diversity can drive innovation, provide a creative edge. It is a social responsibility & a business case exists for it as well.
  5. 5. PROMOTING DIVERSITY & INCLUSION EXCELLENCE INCLUSIVITY • The second part of D&I is inclusivity, which is gaining more attention. • Retention is as important as recruitment of diverse practitioners. • The organizational culture, climate needs to feel welcoming. • Micro-aggressions & pigeon-holing are practices that adversely affect inclusion. • All voices need to be respected, heard & incorporated – with a genuine respect for differences. • Inclusion can occur only when we have a progressive understanding of diversity.  “Diversity truly transcends the notion that it is [just] about color or gender, but of the mindset and the willingness to be open, to learn and to grow.” (PR Coalition report, 2005, p. 19) • PR industry has made some (not enough) progress in recruitment, but inclusivity remains a major challenge (especially in firms).
  6. 6. PROMOTING DIVERSITY & INCLUSION EXCELLENCE PR INDUSTRY TRENDS • Despite much talk & research about the importance of D&I for more than a quarter of a century, the numbers are still quite static: We can only describe about 10% of the profession as being diverse. • There is a general & increasing understanding of the importance of D&I, but confusion & uncertainty about how to achieve it – lack of reliable D&I measurement metrics. • According to a recent study which the Plank Center co- sponsored, less than 50 percent of firms, corporations have D&I executive leaders, or have integrated diversity into their programs. • While some improvement has occurred at the entry & mid-level positions, the diversity pipeline leading to senior leadership positions is not encouraging.
  7. 7. PROMOTING DIVERSITY & INCLUSION EXCELLENCE PR INDUSTRY TRENDS • White males constitute about 30 percent of the PR workforce, dominating senior positions in firms & corporations. • PR leadership tends to report that firms & companies are doing well in terms of D&I, but minority employees do not have that experience. • The Millennial generation expects diversity, and industries that lag behind will not fare well when they start flooding the workplace. • Our profession can learn from the best-in-class examples of leading companies (e.g., Coke, Xerox, IBM, American Express).
  8. 8. PROMOTING DIVERSITY & INCLUSION EXCELLENCE ACTIONS FOR CONSIDERATION • PR leaders need to be passionately, visibly & genuinely involved in D&I efforts. • More diverse senior management is needed. • Reliable metrics are needed to set clear D&I goals/measurable outcomes. • Resources must be devoted to priority D&I initiatives. • Greater accountability for D&I initiatives are needed.
  9. 9. PROMOTING DIVERSITY & INCLUSION EXCELLENCE 🔑 KEY TAKEAWAYS 🔑 • If not already available, ask and encourage your PR educators to incorporate more content in your PR curriculum that will prepare you to appreciate & understand the value of D&I in the PR industry. • Take courses (attend workshops, etc.) outside what is required to build knowledge & personal advocacy for D&I in the industry. • Work with your PRSSA chapters (or PR clubs) to identify, invite practitioner guest speakers who are diverse and/or have been champions of diversity in the industry. • Work with your local PRSA chapters to find mentors who can guide diverse students & prepare them for an industry that is currently not very diverse. • Remember: D&I is everyone’s responsibility, not just that of practitioners & students who consider themselves to be diverse.
  10. 10. PROMOTING DIVERSITY & INCLUSION EXCELLENCE A VIEW FROM THE MARKETPLACE From: To: Denial Commitment Talk ‘Bias for Action’ Intern recruitment ‘Beyond Inclusion’ Limited knowledge Diversity training HR programs ERGs, mentoring circles
  11. 11. PROMOTING DIVERSITY & INCLUSION EXCELLENCE LESSONS: DIVERSITY AWARDS • Good news: significant progress • Strong metrics in many firms (B-M and WS, e.g.) • Innovative ideas (e.g. Launch Pad app at Ketchum) • More and more top mgmt. leadership • More sophisticated retention programs (e.g., Edelman “Griot” and “Equal” employee resource groups) • Bad news: not enough and not soon enough!
  12. 12. PROMOTING DIVERSITY & INCLUSION EXCELLENCE WHERE WE ARE HEADED • Clients demanding evidence of progress • HP • General Mills • Verizon • More to come • PR leaders are showing they get the business case for D&I • Many opportunities ahead for young pros
  13. 13. PROMOTING DIVERSITY & INCLUSION EXCELLENCE 🔑 KEY TAKEAWAYS 🔑 • Little tolerance for talk, platitudes • Bias for action • Clients increasing urgency • Fertile time for innovative thinking at all levels • Raising awareness and levels of respect • Reverse mentoring • Addressing unconscious bias • We’re all in this together
  14. 14. Andrew Cook VP of Advocacy, PRSSA Nilanjana Bardhan, Ph.D. Professor, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale Pat Ford Worldwide Vice Chair & Chief Client Officer, Burson-Marsteller Keith Burton Principal, Grayson Emmett Partners