NEW YORK: Concerned leaders from the corporate and agency worlds came together to discuss ways to diversify the industry in a "Diversity Summit" organized by the PR Coalition yesterday.
Cohost Meta Mereday, VP at the National Black PR Society, called the summit a "first step" toward industry-wide improvement and expressed hope that it would serve as "a call to action."
In a morning session, a panel of leading corporate communicators explored the progression of diversity as a corporate value and the tactics and strategies to ensure continuing progress.
"The level of awareness of the importance of diversity ... is an idea that's taken root," said Bill Nielsen, former VP of public affairs and corporate comms at Johnson & Johnson. "It's not stoppable."
Cheryl Procter-Rogers, regional corporate affairs director for HBO, encouraged PR practitioners to extend themselves into other cultures and bring their experience back to the boardroom. "We must be of the world. As communicators, that's one of our tenets," she said.
Charles Young, Tyco SVP of marketing and communications, said that corporations can multiply the impact of their diversity programs many times over by holding partner agencies and suppliers to equally high standards. "It's one more screening [criterion] for who we work with in the future," he said.
The summit also included panels of agency leaders and PR educators offering diversity solutions for their own fields. The event's ultimate goal was to improve recruitment, mentoring, and policy formulation of diversity initiatives throughout the communications world.