Without inclusion, diversity efforts will never fully mature

Later this month, PRWeek and the Council of PR Firms will kick off the third annual Diversity Distinction in PR Awards.

Later this month, PRWeek and the Council of PR Firms will kick off the third annual Diversity Distinction in PR Awards. This program not only recognizes individuals, agencies, and in-house teams that are leading the charge to ensure greater diversity in the industry, it also serves as a call to action for everyone in the sector to do their part to make PR as inclusive as possible.

On February 28, I attended the council's HR Roundtable along with industry leaders, past award winners among them. My key takeaway: As the US and world population grows more diverse, the perspectives of PR pros representing broad demographics will be vital for providing the counsel clients and employers require.

The intent of the awards program is to highlight the importance of diversity and inclusion. Every submitted entry serves as an inspiration to those who already champion the cause and, perhaps more importantly, those who want to, but haven't quite figured out how.

Another benefit of the meeting was the opportunity to uncover best practices from some organizations that are really paving the path. Their comments provided tips that not only offer guidance on award entries, but also, of greater note, on what organizations must focus to become truly inclusive.

Diversity and inclusion is not an HR function. It has to be owned by everyone in an organization. Moreover, diversity is much broader than the commonly held definition. Sexual preferences, disabilities, and geographic regions are also mandatory staffing considerations.

In terms of staffing, if you want to interest diverse candidates in a PR career, think young. Start at the high school level. In addition, organization leaders should consider teaching at colleges. This presents a built-in opportunity to facilitate students' entry into the profession - and some of those students represent diverse groups.

And once you recruit talent, your job is far from over. Retention is equally vital. From training to involving clients in the process to partnering with the right external groups, the industry must create an environment conducive to keeping talented pros within its ranks.

Stay tuned to prweekus.com for updates on the Diversity Distinction in PR Awards 2013. And remember: inclusion is the keyword to making diversity efforts truly impactful. And it starts by including your organization in this awards process. l

Gideon Fidelzeid is the managing editor of PRWeek. He can be contacted at gideon.fidelzeid@prweek.com.

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