This year marks the sixth installment of the Diversity Distinction in PR Awards, a program presented by the PR Council in conjunction with PRWeek. Slated to launch this year on May 19, it is one of the most important initiatives we undertake because its foundation is rooted in an issue of utmost relevance to the present and future of the communications industry - the continuing drive to ensure greater ethnic diversity among the PR workforce at all levels of seniority.
It's not just about hiring; it's about advancement and long-term commitment. Similarly, this awards program is not just about winning entries. It's about recognizing organizations and individuals that are putting their resources to use to make a difference.
In the world of sports, you will often hear athletes or coaches say something along the lines of, "It's too bad there can only be one winner." Over the first five years of the Diversity Distinction in PR Awards, that sentiment has certainly been expressed by judges. And while all victors are absolutely worthy of the special accolades they receive, we have introduced a few notable changes to this year's process that will enable the spotlight to shine on more entrants.
To borrow from a formula that has worked so well for the PRWeek Awards, honorable mentions will be awarded in all categories where judges see fit to do so. In addition, a shortlist of finalists - where applicable - will be noted in the annual feature that appears in our November issue. There will still be only one winner per category, but official recognition of worthy submissions will increase, which truly aligns with the spirit of this program.
As for the categories, we once again bring back Best PR Firm Diversity Initiative. This year, however, we break that into two divisions: firms with more than $100 million in annual revenue and those with fewer than $100 million in annual revenue. To recognize success among non-agency entities, the Best In-House Diversity Initiative category returns.
Last year, we debuted the Best New Diversity Initiative category - and it was well received. Open to all entities, this looks at new programs introduced within the past year. Inasmuch as this awards program is meant to inspire new action, this category truly represents a key part of why the PR Council and PRWeek launched these awards back in 2011.
Annually, the Diversity Champion category has greatly challenged judges because there have been so many award-worthy nominees. So for the first time this year, we will be honoring winners on both the agency and in-house sides.
Over the next few weeks, the rising importance of diversity and inclusion to PR's long-term success will be highlighted in posts on this site penned by industry leaders including Renee Wilson, PR Council president; G&S Business Communications CEO Luke Lambert; and Rahsaan Harris, CEO of The Emma Bowen Foundation.
But a key date to mark on your calendars is May 19, as that is the day we begin accepting entries for the 2016 Diversity Distinction in PR Awards. All entry details will be available on that date at prweek.com/us/diversityawards. It's the day you commence celebrating what you have already achieved. It's the day you take that first step toward potentially winning a coveted trophy. It's the day you begin inspiring others to join the crucial cause. It's the day where it starts becoming clear that diversity and inclusion in PR is a truly and broadly rewarding effort.
Gideon Fidelzeid is managing editor of PRWeek.