PRSA New York launches diversity and inclusion initiative

The New York City chapter of the trade body will establish workshops and create an advisory board and an internal diversity and inclusion committee.

NEW YORK: The New York City chapter of the Public Relations Society of America is launching a diversity initiative on Monday during its annual retreat.

The group is establishing workshops to identify and combat unconscious bias. The workshops are modeled after the People’s Institute’s initiatives, said PRSA president-elect Sharon Fenster. The People’s Institute is a New Orleans-based organization with the mission of undoing racism.

Fenster said she made diversity and inclusion a priority, noting that "in some situations, it's client driven."

"This has been a long time coming," she added. "It’s been a conversation for a long time. I know many of my colleagues have a positive [outlook] on what they want to see happen in diversity and inclusion, but they don’t necessarily know what steps should first be taken."

PRSA New York will establish an internal diversity and inclusion committee, as well as an advisory board including Angela Chitkara, PR track director in the City College of New York’s Branding+Integrated Communications program; Bill Doescher, president of the Doescher Group; Mike Paul, president of Reputation Doctor; Patrice Tanaka, chief joy officer of Joyful Planet; and Trisch Smith, EVP and MD of diversity and inclusion at Edelman.

PRSA New York will also ask for counsel from experts outside the PR industry and create a transparency and accountability effort.

"In 2018, the diversity and inclusion committee is charged with working cooperatively with the advisory board to put the chapter's diversity and inclusion initiative into action," Fenster said, via email. "They will continue to facilitate events and programs but, as you can see, now they have a much broader mission."

The PRSA’s diversity and inclusion push follows efforts by HP, Verizon, General Mills, USAA, Lenovo, and other brands to create more diverse workforces and staff at the agencies that represent them.

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