Understanding me: the value of diversity

A University of Alabama PR major offers his take on diversity in the industry.

In 1998, my flight from Berlin to New York City arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport. It was the first time I had ever seen America. I was born in Manila, Philippines, and have traveled around the world.

Throughout my youth, I was told of the countless opportunities and dreams that the US had to offer. Over a decade has passed, and I am now an American citizen, attending the University of Alabama and studying public relations. Millions of foreign-born children and I now call America our home.

Public relations is essential to an organization; without a good public relations person, a company cannot maintain a positive image with its external audiences and its employees. However, to thrive in the world of business, one must be able to understand the concept of diversity.

America is the ultimate melting pot of cultures. It is known as one of the most diverse countries in the world. So, in order for a company or a PR firm to completely relate to the public, it needs to be diverse like its audience.

Without this understanding of culture and diversity, a company cannot maximize its potential. With a diverse workforce, a public relations team can captivate a larger target audience.

The best way I can show you the effectiveness of having a diverse team is by talking about me.

I am a Filipino-American. My peers from the University of Alabama can understand most of my experiences whether they are of a different skin color or love differently than I do. The reason they understand me is because they are a part of my collegiate demographic. However, not everyone understands my culture's traditions.

In Filipino culture, it is all about respecting your elders. No matter how old you become, you obey every word that comes out of their mouths.

I am a senior in college, and I still have to discuss my decisions with my parents. People ask me why I still ask them whether or not I can take a weekend trip to Atlanta. Why don't I say that their rules are absurd? It is because of my culture. I just do it. To me, disrespecting my parents' decision is absurd. For the most part, my non-Filipino friends do not understand. But if you ask most Filipino teens, they will tell you that my actions and responses are not strange. It is our way of life.

To succeed in a world where cultures complement each other rather than blend together, a company must have resources that allow it to see from the eyes of an individual person. Just because you have a diverse team doesn't mean that your company will understand everyone. However, it does take the business one step closer to seeing the world in its truest form. Without having a staff that can understand different target segments, messages can never be effectively communicated to their maximum potential.

Diversity is the key to success.

Benjamin Ladrillono is a public relations major at the University of Alabama.

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