For public affairs, diversity is an asset

Saturday’s swearing in of Sonia Sotomayor as an associate justice, a milestone in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court, troubles some senators who worry...

Saturday’s swearing in of Sonia Sotomayor as an associate justice, a milestone in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court, troubles some senators who worry that she will inject empathy and personal perspectives into her judicial decisions. While we all want judges who are objective, it is hard to imagine that any justice could hear a case without being swayed by his or her individual beliefs and cultural expectations. In fact, the divergent voting patterns of liberal and conservative judges are evidence that reality is seen through a personal lens. I, for one, am thrilled we have more diversity on the high court for that very reason -- more perspectives will be considered as the justices weigh cases.

Diversity is critical in public affairs as well. Our most creative and effective campaigns are born during dynamic brainstorming sessions involving people from diverse backgrounds. A common mistake is to assume that the best people to solve a problem are those who have the most experience, or who share the client’s view of the world. Nothing could be further from reality.

Instead, carefully construct the team that will craft campaign solutions. Bring in outsiders if your in-house team is monolithic in ideology, age, ethnicity, or gender. Divergent points of view will ensure you develop messages that cross party and experiential lines, and deliver them effectively through both digital and traditional channels.

Pam Jenkins, president, Powell Tate, Weber Shandwick’s Public Affairs arm

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