Undeniable arguments for diversity and inclusion

PR must embrace diversity and inclusion. Winners of last year's Diversity Distinction in PR Awards, presented by the PR Council and PRWeek, leave no room for debate as to why.

Award-winning efforts, such as the APC Collective's Jarritos – The Journey campaign, are fueled by organizations that truly embrace a diverse and inclusive culture
Award-winning efforts, such as the APC Collective's Jarritos – The Journey campaign, are fueled by organizations that truly embrace a diverse and inclusive culture

The face of America is changing. Some key findings of the most recent U.S. Census underscore this. Among them:

•By 2044, the U.S. population will become majority-minority.
•By 2060, the minority population is projected to rise to 56% of the total. (Note: as of 2014, it was already at 38%.)
•By 2020, more than half of the nation’s children are expected to be part of a minority race or ethnic group.

The data points to the diverse consumer base all brands are already pursuing. It is crystal clear who the consumers are that brands will be trying to win over in the next decade and beyond.

The business argument for ensuring your staffs represent this evolving customer base are obvious. So, let’s get this out of the way now: From a purely bottom-line standpoint, diversity and inclusion are musts. Period.

Of course, everyone in PR knows that. However, that realization has still not manifested itself in the broader PR workforce, particularly at senior levels.

If there is a common ingredient that defines those agencies and brands who are at the forefront on this issue, it’s the way that diversity and inclusion has become infused in the culture and philosophical foundation of these entities.

Now entering its eighth year, the Diversity and Distinction in PR Awards have long sought to shine a deserving spotlight on such organizations because others can learn so much from them. To that end, all seven of last year’s winners share their thoughts on why diversity and inclusion is not only so important to their organizations, but how it makes their teams – as it would yours – better and stronger. Note: It has to do with so much more than just revenue.

•Antonio Lucio, global chief marketing and communications officer, HP
(2017 Diversity Champion – In-House)
Great organizations thrive and grow on a diversity of ideas and experiences. Studies prove more diverse and inclusive companies are better able to win top talent, improve employee satisfaction, and build an engaged workforce. At HP, diversity is a values issue, as well as a business imperative. As one of the most recognized brands in the world, we are committed to creating technology that makes life better for everyone, everywhere. These factors require that the stories we tell reflect the diversity of our customers, partners, and stakeholders around the world. Only by having a diverse and inclusive workforce can we authentically represent the communities we serve."

•Lisa Ross, president, Washington, D.C. office, Edelman
(2017 Diversity Champion – PR Agency)
"Diversity of opinion and diversity of thought is what generates brilliance. If you have the same people, who believe the same thing, who look the same way, who come from the same places, digesting and trying to solve a problem, you’re going to get the same answer. However, if you are made up of people from different parts of the country, party affiliations, upbringings, and educations, and you put those people in a room to digest a problem, you’ll get a wide range of opinions and a well-informed solution. If you talk the same, you get the same."

•Donna Imperato, CEO, Burson Cohn & Wolfe
(2017 Best PR Firm Diversity Initiative - $100 million or more in annual revenue)
"Truly diverse and inclusive workforces inspire and encourage people to bring their most authentic selves to the office every day. They foster safe and welcoming environments in which colleagues feel comfortable and free to fully engage and offer fresh, valuable perspectives they may not have otherwise shared. Ultimately, this breeds the best ideas, innovation and creative solutions, while creating a happier, honest, productive, and winning culture overall."

•Julie Batliner, president and managing partner, Carmichael Lynch Relate
(2017 Best PR Firm Diversity Initiative – less than $100 million in annual revenue)
"At Carmichael Lynch Relate, diversity fuels the originality and insight behind our best ideas. That’s why we appreciate and welcome the differences among our colleagues. Our people are asked to contribute their unique, individual perspectives as we confront the challenges and opportunities that continue to present themselves in a rapidly changing world. And this has helped Carmichael Lynch Relate roll out new capabilities in a timelier fashion. It has built stronger bonds between our ever-growing number of disciplines and, perhaps most importantly, enabled us to do the best work of our careers."

•Jon Schwartz, MD, integrated marcomms, NASCAR
(2017 Best In-House Diversity Initiative)
"We’re enjoying an era of unprecedented collaboration in which drivers, teams, tracks, and NASCAR are working together to grow the sport. Doing that comes with tackling difficult issues. NASCAR is built upon a culture of healthy debate. It’s critical that debate includes a wide variety of voices reflective of viewpoints from across today’s society. To help us achieve that, we can’t just ‘think diversity first.’ We must also take action that permeates throughout our entire industry – from helping to drive more diversity among competitors on the racetrack…to making it a key priority for hiring managers who are filling open spots."

•Audrey Ponzio, founder, APC Collective
(2017 Best Campaign by a Diverse and Inclusive Team)
"Diversity enables organizations, just like organisms, to adapt, evolve, and ultimately survive. It's that simple and that strategic. Diverse perspectives and, most importantly, the acceptance of them drive innovation and fuel creativity. Truly inclusive organizations challenge the status quo daily, enable any staff member to develop and lead strategy, and proactively seek context when providing counsel on how to engage with any audience mindfully. A good first step for any agency or team would be to move beyond the idea that diversity needs to be led internally by just one D&I officer or multicultural lead. It takes shared intention and collective focus to drive real diversity forward for any meaningful impact."

Ashley Simms, account supervisor, FleishmanHillard
(2017 Outstanding Young Professional)
"PR is often at the forefront of developing an organization’s core messaging and driving overall strategy. Helping organizations prioritize diversity and inclusion can start with us. When we make diversifying the workforce and fostering inclusive environments an integral part of our industry, we exemplify the positive value of this behavior and help contribute to larger-scale social change. We can model how diverse teams drive innovation, how cultural competency builds better brand equity, how equality is essential to a great workplace culture, and how to more closely connect with audiences. As extensions of our clients, a diverse and inclusive workforce will not only make our individual organizations better, it will also lead to a more successful, collaborative society."

Check back on prweek.com on May 10 for the launch of the 8th annual Diversity Distinction in PR Awards. Click here to read up on last year's honorees.

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