PHOTO: Queen Muse during PPRA’s DE&I webinar on June 30.
On Tuesday, June 30, David W. Brown, Diversity Advisor to the Office of the Dean at Temple University, led a discussion with Queen Muse, Digital Contributor for Philadelphia Magazine, and Sabrina Ram, Founder and President of Blu Lotus, about the meaning of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” (DE&I) in the workplace.
The discussion builds on ongoing conversations around companies’ responsibility to be advocates for diverse communities. Queen and Sabrina emphasized the undeniable value of diversity and offered the following actionable tips to help PR professionals integrate DE&I into their lives, corporate culture, and counsel.
Be authentic and actionable, not performative.
When crafting statements, leaders should strive for authenticity by speaking about what they know to avoid hollow messaging. The statement should be transparent, noting any past missteps or shortcomings the company may have had—even if they make them look bad—as reflecting on the past is necessary to mapping out the path forward. Calling out injustice or inequity should become second nature for companies that are truly looking to evolve.
It’s impossible for white individuals to truly understand what people of color have withstood, but it is possible for them to educate themselves on their plights, interests, opinions, and more by reading their stories, listening to Ted Talks, and studying history. Queen stressed that education is key to understanding diversity, and it will inherently guide authentic messaging.
Make sacrifices to make room.
Organizations must invite diverse talent into the room and offer them a seat at the executives’ table. Majority leaders should willingly step aside and invite a person of color to fill their position to broaden the company’s perspective and deliver impactful messages to their diverse audiences—especially in a city as diverse as Philadelphia. Hiring managers should look outside of their immediate circle by consulting organizations that cultivate pools of brilliant, diverse talent, and those without hiring power should be willing to speak up and ask what the company is doing to increase diversity.
Amplify diverse voices.
Hiring people of color to positions of power fosters diversity, but diversity is not enough. They should be empowered to speak and drive decision making so that their voices, perspectives, and creativity can be heard and can trickle down throughout the company. Sabrina noted that to keep the momentum going, we should highlight companies that are doing DE&I right so that others can learn from them.
Hold yourself accountable.
The conversation surrounding DE&I has been bubbling to the surface for decades, but 2020 is the time for change. Ambiguous statements are no longer acceptable. All of us need to set goals to foster DE&I however we are able, and we need to hold ourselves, and our companies, accountable by pairing each goal with a deadline, routinely evaluating progress, and seeing each goal to the finish line.
Look out for more PPRA programming around these important issues as the discussion continues to evolve, because this is not the end of the conversation, but rather the beginning of long-lasting change.
-By PPRA member Jamie Shore