Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is the cornerstone of every successful business and organization. It not only allows for differences of opinion in the workplace, but also introduces different perspectives, both of which are crucial to a firm’s continued growth and development.

This term, D&I, is being used more frequently these days but only a few companies are being introspective and implementing policies that increase diversity numbers and inclusion in all departments. There are a lot of different perspectives on this subject, but the consensus is that it ultimately gives organizations access to a way of thinking that is statistically impossible to recreate without those individuals. In essence, Diversity and Inclusion can provide businesses and organizations an opportunity to learn about different lived experiences by the people who truly have lived those experiences. Without that perspective, they are only offering an educated guess on what those experiences are like.

For example, if you are working at a footwear company and are trying to promote your newest shoe, isn’t it important to know what features people are actually interested in? Additionally, you will want to know every single detail that will make your product have the “it“ factor.  Yet, what if your organization has nobody in a decision-making capacity that actually wore those types of shoes, or has really ever taken the time to learn about what that shoes feels like? That same analogy could be applied to companies implementing D&I. Many are striving to introduce this concept but haven’t taken the time to understand what it really means. This is something that applies to all industries, especially predominantly white industries such as public relations.

It’s no secret that the public relations industry in the U.S. is incredibly white. It’s an even worse kept secret that the P.R. industry in Boston is incredibly white. With everything happening in the world and the explosion of the phrase “Diversity and Inclusion,” what does this mean for our field? Personally, I hope it leads to increased access to leadership positions by Black and Brown professionals, and also an increase in listening to those professionals and implementing  their ideas.

How can a P.R. organization better achieve this? Well, here are a few suggestions:

  • First, you need to proactively seek out qualified individuals where they are. We live in one of the world’s most educated cities, with dozens of quality institutions, both public and private. There is no reason why qualified People of Color should pass on staying here after college, but they do. That’s why before they graduate, you have to remind them there are competent and successful firms looking to hire them. Whether that is through career fairs, classroom visits, networking opportunities etc., you have to proactively do it all to meet them.
  • Once you meet them, it’s critical to introduce your organization in a way that makes them feel included and wanted. Everyone loves that phrase I refuse to mention anymore, but what exactly is the industry doing to “put our money where our mouth is?”
  • Finally, you need to consider these key questions when taking an introspective look: do you have bias training that is mandatory for all employees? Do you order lunch from Black and Brown-owned restaurants? Do you celebrate and educate your employees on “non-White” holidays like Juneteenth or Ramadan? If you’re a majority-white firm, do you seek opinions from your employees of Color and really listen to their recommendations?

All of these actions are something small that the industry can do to open up to a vast world of knowledge and new perspectives that ultimately can make our clients successful, and therefore make our industry successful.

I am proud to work for a company like that. While I understand there is much more to do, I think a lot more companies should take the path of SM&C and provide a welcoming and successful organization for all – you just have to be willing to ACTUALLY do it.