In a time of racial crisis, how should companies respond? This ongoing conversation reached a new peak in June with the death of George Floyd and the ensuing protests across the country. As professional communicators, we must be at the forefront of these conversations within our organizations to ensure every public has an equal voice.
In an effort to keep the conversation going, PRSA has continued its Diverse Dialogues series, a webinar series that brings professional communicators and Diversity and Inclusion leaders together to discuss ways to enact real change within our organizations. Most recently, PRSA hosted Race, Culture, and Communications: How Companies & Brands Engage During Transformational Moments to Drive Change on July 15th. This webinar featured professionals from Edelman, PwC, and Ben and Jerry’s.
As the future of the profession, PRSSA students want to be included in these conversations. Madison Moulder, a BYU PRSSA student, felt compelled to share a Twitter thread of her insights following this Diverse Dialogues webinar. I asked her to expand her thoughts on Progressions. They are as follows:
Expect to take a stand
Remaining neutral on important social issues is no longer optional for brands. Edelman found that 60% of consumers say companies should take a stand on important issues. This statistic was further expanded by Trisch Smith (Edelman), she believes that consumers are expecting brands to issue a statement on current events.
Another thing that has shifted from optional to mandatory is diversity in organizations. Idalia Hill (PwC) pointed out that in the past, companies saw diversity as simply a good opportunity. Now, organizations have an obligation to foster diversity. The shift towards issuing statements on current events and prioritizing diversity has already seen great outcomes and will continue to grow in influence.
Measure what you treasure
Diversity and inclusion have become buzz words lately, but it is important for companies to put action and objectives behind their statements on D&I. Idalia Hill brought attention to the importance of measuring diversity and inclusion as separate items with different metrics. A team can be diverse but not inclusive, and vice versa.
Sean Greenwood (Ben and Jerry’s) put it best when he said, “We measure what we treasure.” What does this mean for professionals and students? Set specific goals for diversity and for inclusion that can be tracked with defined metrics.
Understand different experiences
In order to communicate effectively, it is essential to recognize other people’s experiences. Everyone experiences the world differently, and it is important to acknowledge perspectives that are different than your own. “There’s no shortcut”, said moderator Soon Mee Kim.
Along with understanding different experiences yourself, it is important to educate the leaders of your company as well. Trisch Smith advised, “ensure your leaders understand cultural nuances” so they can communicate effectively and represent the organization’s values.
Diversity and Inclusion is an ongoing discussion. As communicators, it our job to push for tangible change and give a voice to underrepresented groups. PRSSA students should continue pushing the industry forward as they enter the profession. To see details on the next Diverse Dialogues webinar, click here.
Madison Moulder is a senior at Brigham Young University and serves as vice president of media and publications for her Chapter. As a public relations major and editing minor, she aspires to become a PR professional at a content marketing agency. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
Zach Ferenchak, 2020–2021 vice president of brand engagement, is a senior at Capital University, a private university in Columbus, Ohio. He is majoring in emerging media with an emphasis in public relations and minors in journalism and marketing. In his free time, Ferenchak can be found obsessing over the latest gadget or video game, exploring a coffee shop with friends, or going on a trail run. He hopes to elevate the voices of all PRSSA members through the organization’s various brand platforms. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.