PRSA Orlando Chapter members met and discussed the importance of women in leadership and more.
Read the Diversity and Inclusion white paper.
PRSA Orlando Chapter members met and discussed the importance of women in leadership and more.
Read the Diversity and Inclusion white paper.
PRSA Orlando’s goal is to support communications professionals of all backgrounds. This year specifically, one of my goals was to look for opportunities to include everyone in our efforts and build new relationships. You can’t have a diverse membership if you don’t provide a diversity of opportunities.
We are all unique, come from a variety of industries, and are in various stages of our careers. One person cannot define diversity and inclusion. That’s why this year, we expanded our team with the addition of two diversity and inclusion committee members working with the D&I Chair (me). Together, we shared experiences, brainstormed ideas and put words to action with a few key efforts.
We partnered with the Florida Diversity Council, where we found value in learning and hearing from Central Florida executives about what they’re doing to influence change and address diversity head-on.
We wrote ten blogs on various diversity topics like hip hop culture, engaging physically-disabled audiences, LGBTQ branding, and other focuses that influence and shape us daily.
We held a program on the role and impact of public relations in inclusion and diversity with EA Sports – a company that continues to evolve with its diverse audience.
We held our second annual Dinner, Diversity and Dialogue event fostering a culture of sharing experiences that influence our membership. We looked at the demographics of our association and held a dinner with 12 women in PR to discuss leadership. We learned the challenges they’ve experienced, the areas they wish they had more support in, and the advice they want to give young women in public relations. The findings will be shared in a thought paper that will be published on our blog early next year.
But perhaps what I’m most excited to share is that these types of purposeful, intentional efforts and direct outreach had a lasting impact. Our two D&I committee members came onboard after expressing interest following the first Dinner, Diversity, and Dialogue event. Three PRSA member attendees from the second dinner have officially taken on board roles for next year. This is the kind of change we’ve been looking for: getting members of all backgrounds more engaged with us by providing them opportunities that match their interests.
We found other ways to connect with our members too. We posted social media videos and graphics with quotes from our members on how to effectively communicate and incorporate diversity into their branding and messaging.
It’s hard to believe that the year is almost over when there’s so much more we want to do, but I hope you will continue to connect with us over the next year as D&I committee member Veronica Figueroa moves into the D&I Chair role.
Diversity and inclusion isn’t just a buzzword for us. It’s a commitment. It’s woven into who we are–within our practices, within our programs, and within our leadership. We promise you we’re also taking your feedback to PRSA National to give them the best position to provide us the resources we need to address the diversity and inclusion challenges and opportunities within our profession.
One of the simplest, yet biggest values I believe PRSA brings is having each other as a resource and as a sounding board. As always, we appreciate any feedback, suggestions or ideas on how we can support you.
Have a beautiful holiday.
PRSA Diversity & Inclusion Chair
By Veronica Figueroa Fernandez, PRSA Diversity & Inclusion Committee
Inclusive marketing has become a consumer expectation. And when companies, such as MAC Cosmetics, Levi Strauss & Co., and many others, have inclusive practices embedded into the fabric of their business, are proud to be a part of the progress toward equality, and are forces of change within the community, they will attract the right talent to deliver their brand message in an authentic way, fortify brand relevancy and drive sales.
“The best LGBTQ marketing or public relations campaign your brand can push is the authentic joy your employees feel while contributing their best selves at work,” said Yolanda Londono. Prior to retiring, London served as Tupperware’s former vice president of global responsibility.
Earlier this year, Londono spoke at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Inclusion Incorporated Florida Regional Forum, an event created for businesses and partners to realize the full benefits of fostering LGBTQ inclusion.
Numerous studies have shown the positive impact of LGBTQ-inclusive practices on a company’s bottom line and its ability to attract and retain talent. To put it simply, diverse teams deliver superior results. Diversity is essential in marketing, but without an inclusive workplace culture, your message will seem inauthentic.
These days, consumers are looking for inclusion beyond rainbow logos and seasonal campaigns. They’re holding companies responsible for their hiring practices because they are looking to support companies that support its LGBTQ employees.
But despite significant progress, nearly 50% of LGBTQ workers nationwide remain closeted on the job, according to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s, A Workplace Divided: Understanding the Climate for LGBTQ Workers Nationwide. The report also shared 31% of LGBTQ employees said they have felt unhappy or depressed at work, with many not reporting incidents because they did not think anything would be done to address it.
What efforts can companies take in order to create an LGBTQ-inclusive environment in the workplace?
Integrate diversity training programs depicting realistic scenarios, including those issues reflecting the LGBTQ community, to directly impact office behavior. These programs can be integrated into already existing diversity and inclusion programs and help build inclusivity from the core.
Create and enforce inclusive policies, and establish procedures for dealing with employees who violate your policies.
Ensure your employee benefits, such as health insurance or life insurance, does not exclude your LGBTQ employees.
Develop gender-transition resources and guidelines for your company’s transgender and gender non-conforming employees.
Become involved in the community by supporting or sponsoring local events, such as Pride parades and festivals, or participating in Spirit Day, an annual awareness day created as a sign of support for LGBTQ youth and to speak out against bullying.
The U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE FOUNDATION is dedicated to strengthening America’s long-term competitiveness. We educate the public on the conditions necessary for businesses and communities to thrive, how business positively impacts communities, and emerging issues and creative solutions that will shape the future.
PRSA Orlando’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee attended the program to be able to share key takeaways with chapter members, and learn how to incorporate Londono’s advice within the public relations industry.
By Tyrone Law, PRSA Orlando D&I Committee Member
According to the 2019 Nielsen Music Mid-Year Report, the R&B and hip-hop genre is America’s preferred musical style, accounting for 26.5 percent of the total volume of all music consumption in the country. In turn, hip-hop culture influences many of the trends and key moments that engulfs society today. Having a working understanding of popular culture, which currently is heavily driven by hip-hop culture, can help communications professionals create more comprehensive and trendy campaign messaging, cultivate strategic partnerships and expand upon or introduce new target audiences.
Analyzing trends and predicting their consequences
Throughout history, music has represented and influenced dominant societal movements that transcend race, gender, ethnicity, social or economic status, and sexual orientation. Hip-hop is no different. For example, “Same Love” by Macklemore and Mary Lambert, an American hip-hop song, tackled issues of LGBTQ rights and helped bring awareness to Washington Referendum 74, which eventually legalized same-sex marriage in Washington State. Other R&B and hip-hop influencers, including Childish Gambino, Beyoncé, 50 Cent and many more also have created songs and other content that sway American social norms, trends, language, and politics. As a result of this growing trend, many brands are studying, embracing and implementing elements of hip-hop into marketing and communications. A recent example comes from DoSomething.org, which recently teamed up with rapper Silento on its new anti-vaping campaign.
Strategic hip-hop partnerships and activations
A strategic partnership in the hip-hop space can build campaigns that speak appropriately to cultural nuances and resonate with audiences time and time again. This concept has already proven to be successful by several brand activations over the last five years. Some of the most memorable campaigns containing elements of hip-hop are Sprite and Drake, Mercedes Benz and A$AP Rocky, and General Mills and Travis Scott Reese’s Puffs cereal box collaboration. These examples and numerous more have resulted in millions of media impressions and hundreds of stories. The Pew Research Center projected that by the end of 2019, millennials will surpass baby boomers to become the largest living generation in the United States. It just so happens that this same demographic group (millennials) is also the top consumer of hip-hop music.
Embrace the hip-hop culture
Hip-hop culture is everywhere. Broadway has even embraced the genre. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” is said to be one of the most successful Broadway shows of all time, holding the record for the most Tony Awards nominations. Communications professionals should immerse themselves in a diverse range of cultures. If you haven’t already, give hip-hop a try; watch hip-hop-themed movies; listen to a new hip-hop artist; hire someone who is more attuned with hip-hop culture to help inspire content and messaging that can bring your results to the next level.
PR campaigns should speak to what is manifested through popular clothing, art, attitude, style, music, video and language. Although culture is a revolving door of rapid changes, I’d bet hip-hop isn’t going to lose steam any time soon. Think critically on how to authentically implement this trend in your communications, and it just may lead you to that award-winning campaign or that promotion you’ve always wanted.
Editor’s note: October is PRSA’s Diversity & Inclusion month. This post supports the organization’s effort of recognizing the importance of continuing to create awareness of this essential topic, and to recommit ourselves to actively promoting change for the betterment of the industry. PRSA is devoted to building consciousness by increasing visibility of D&I standards, resources and best practices for racial, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation and gender differences, as well as diverse skill sets, mindsets and cultures at all levels of the organization.
By Alyssa Badalamenti, PRSA Diversity and Inclusion Chair
“If enhancing diversity and inclusion is not for the right thing, then do it for the business case,” said Deloria Nelson, President of Authentic Culture & Engagement Solutions.
Nelson consults with Fortune 500 companies on how to better their diversity and inclusion goals by developing customized workforce solutions for their teams. She likes to give company leaders the business case for why engaging diversity and inclusion matters—not just for people, but also for bolstering the company’s productivity, performance, and bottom line.
Once an executive team understands the business case, the Human Resources department typically takes the reins. But it takes more than implementing a new hiring policy to become a company with an inclusive culture.
“Diversity and inclusion in the workplace should be business-driven and integrated in the business culture, not just a standalone HR initiative,” Nelson said. “CEO support and transparency are critical to creating longevity and stickiness in company culture because it drives accountability and credibility.”
Nelson recently spoke to members of the Florida Diversity Council at its May program, sharing plenty of statistics and examples of how engaging in these practices will keep your company at pace with evolving needs for better workplace practices.
“We are living in a political era in which more companies are determining that they need to improve their diversity and inclusion efforts,” she explained. “But it is not political; it is a people thing.”
Nelson says it’s okay to be vulnerable when making decisions in diversity and inclusion engagement, as long you’re sincerely trying.
“Just be willing to take the risk—even if you make missteps along the way,” she advised.
She does, of course, recommend some important guidelines. Keep in mind this advice when evaluating your organization’s diversity and inclusion efforts.
Be aware of unconscious bias
Write objective skill sets in job postings and take a deep look at your words, phrases, and sentences that may be biased. Ensure there is a diverse slate of candidates interviewed by a diverse hiring panel. Diversity officers at the company are great, but how can one person define diversity and inclusion? Look at your leaders, too. Notice that representation is typically minimized as you move up in leadership positions. Be sure to give adequate support, tools, and resources equally for deserving individuals to progress at the company.
Be careful with “culture fit”
What does your office culture really mean? In our minds, we struggle with reconciling a new image of an old position. Be careful with “culture fit”—culture should evolve to let more people in it. Instead of looking for a “culture fit,” look for a “culture add,” or a candidate who will bring diverse opinions and experiences to the company’s culture.
Set goals and be humble
Balance strategy and tactics to keep people engaged. Be strategic, but don’t be so strategic that no one knows what you’re doing. Ensure you provide transparency, have CEO support, and have a “champion.” There’s no one way to do it right, but any movements, even baby steps, will take you in the right direction. But don’t toot your horn just because you’re better than you were before. The goal should be forward improvement, not to compare to others, or to compare to your lack of progress in the past.
Be yourself and learn from others
Don’t wear a mask! Think about how much energy it takes to be someone else at work just to fit in. And on the other side, learn from others. Don’t say things about someone’s culture without actually getting to know someone in the culture. Remember that we have more in common than we have differences. With proper relationships, you can avoid a diversity and inclusion crisis. When you prioritize inclusion, diversity will happen naturally because people enjoy working where they feel included.
Why isn’t it working?
If your company culture has not changed after implementing new practices, understand why. Nelson says it’s typically because of one or more of the following factors: fear of change, privilege, traditions, culture fit, loss of culture, or “sacred cows”—an idea or custom held (unreasonably) because it’s been ingrained in the company for a long time. There are often psychological and system barriers in place that can hurt behavioral change. Don’t be afraid of removing them.
One thing you can do immediately is make it mandatory to diversify candidate slates.
“It’s just like online dating,” Nelson explained. “When you open your scope of exposure, you open your culture to diversity.”
The Florida Diversity Council is a nonprofit organization that serves as a resource for diversity best practices and leadership development in Florida. The May program was part of a monthly series of events with the goal to influence leaders in the Central Florida community on what it truly means to engage diversity within company leadership.
PRSA Orlando’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee attended the program to be able to share key takeaways with chapter members, and learn how to incorporate Nelson’s advice within the public relations industry.
By Tyrone Law, PRSA Diversity & Inclusion Committee Member
Not long ago, in an effort to elevate my career to the next level, I shifted into “job search mode” and my quest to step into a new public relations role began. After several interviews, I began to more deeply contemplate the notion that I’d only be willing to take my PR talents to an organization that embraced diversity in a dynamic way—a company whose senior leadership truly reflected diversity and inclusion.
According to a recent survey by Glassdoor, 67% of job seekers say that when evaluating companies and job offers, it is important to them that the company has a diverse workforce, and when it comes to leadership diversity, the survey showed that two in five people do not think their company has a diverse executive team. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the ethnic makeup of the PR industry in the U.S. is 78% Caucasian, 17% Hispanic American, 13% African-American and 6% Asian-American.
In 2019, it’s easier than ever for jobseekers to log into sites like LinkedIn and Facebook to absorb firsthand what a company’s current workforce looks like. Future talent also can effortlessly see right through companies or organizations that merely go through the “diversity and inclusion checkbox” while failing to staff a truly diverse workforce or leadership team. You know those companies that claim they “champion diversity and inclusion” because it’s all over their website, but show very little concrete evidence in support of that statement.
Staffing your top-level PR positions with a diverse mix of talent representing a multitude of different cultures, disciplines, ideals, gender, disabilities and sexual orientations, fosters campaigns that truly reflect the society in which we live. Unique perspective is invaluable. A study from global management firm Boston Consulting Group found that “increasing the diversity of leadership teams leads to more and better innovation and improved financial performance.”
Get out of your comfort zone and engage diverse communities
Collaborating with local organizations that support communities underrepresented in the PR industry, recruiting talent from Historically Black Colleges and Universities and networking with organizations made up of professionals with disabilities are great examples of ways companies can step out of their typical recruiting tactics and engage talent in new communities.
The PR industry certainly isn’t the worst industry in its diversity and inclusion efforts, but there are still many strides that must be made towards representation and inclusion. Recruiting diverse PR talent isn’t just a matter of morality, it affects a company’s bottom-line and evolves with the changing demographics of our audiences.
By Veronica Figueroa Fernandez, PRSA Diversity & Inclusion Committee
Our need for exploring and adventure connects us as people, allowing us to create lasting memories. And while traveling can be stressful at times, for persons with disabilities the challenges can often feel overwhelming.
According to The World Bank, one billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability. One-fifth of the estimated global total, or between 110 million and 190 million people, experience significant disabilities.
With an awareness that understanding the needs of disabled persons can result in increased visitation, Experience Kissimmee (Osceola County’s tourism authority) is leading the charge locally in promoting diversity and inclusion in their marketing and public relations efforts.
Recently, Experience Kissimmee partnered with leading accessible travel blogger Cory Lee (pictured above) from CurbFreeWithCoryLee.com, where he visited the destination and shared wheelchair accessible activities in Kissimmee–from soaring over alligators at Gatorland to exploring the town of Celebration.
Cori Powers, director of communications at Experience Kissimmee, shared with us why diversity and inclusion are crucial to the travel and hospitality industry.
Why is it important for Experience Kissimmee to promote accessible tourism?
As a destination, we promise a vacation where sunny hellos, out-of-this-world adventures, and wow-worthy experiences are always included. That promise pertains to everyone. Part of Kissimmee’s appeal is its accessibility. We put the focus on fun, so that accommodations, transportation, and access is as worry-free as possible. It’s important our messaging promotes that in Kissimmee, the entire family, no matter age, race, style, or culture, stay and play together.
Why should diversity and inclusion matter to the travel and hospitality industry?
The travel and hospitality industry needs to be representative of the population it serves. As buying power shifts, the industry needs to work to acknowledge and pivot messaging and communications efforts to fit individual audiences and needs.
How else is Experience Kissimmee featuring diversity and inclusion in their public relations efforts?
Whether we are talking to consumers, groups, event planners, event rights holders, or travel agents, our messaging is that Kissimmee is accessible. We work to educate different audiences that all are welcome here. We achieve this by promoting our partners and events that share our focus on inclusion and diversity, making it easy for us to tell that story.
As you already know, we hosted blogger and disabled traveler Cory Lee in Kissimmee. At Gatorland, he was able to zipline 350 feet through the air right over the Alligator Breeding Marsh on the Gator Gauntlet. We’ve also worked with LGBTQ influencers such as Perez Hilton, distributed a press release touting Kissimmee’s autism-friendly attractions and accommodations, and constantly showcase our hotels and vacation homes’ ability to accommodate any special needs.
We also have established local events that help promote our destination as inclusive and diverse. Experience Kissimmee sponsors PrideFest Kissimmee in June, a celebration grounded in welcoming and acknowledging the impactful contributions of our local LGBTQ community. Our area celebrates diversity through many multicultural events, such as the Caribbean Fusion Festival and the Cuban Sandwich Festival.
As public relations professionals, we need to engage a focus on minority audiences to make them our regular audience because ultimately, diversity and inclusion is something that all customers, including discerning travelers, notice and value.
By Alyssa Badalamenti, PRSA Orlando Diversity and Inclusion Chair
When you don’t respond to something within a crisis, your silence makes it seem like you don’t care.
We know this specifically as public relations professionals because this is PR Crisis 101.
When a large mistake is made within your company and it affects people negatively, people expect a company response to show you care.
When a tragedy happens within the public, people expect (or at least appreciate) a company response to show you care.
If you don’t publicly recognize that you do care about diversity and inclusion, your silence will make it seem like you don’t care.
What would reasonable people appropriately expect a responsible organization to do in this situation?
Big brands responding to a lack of diversity and inclusion in recent years has created a shift and an expectation for all companies to step up. Each of your stakeholders in the case of diversity expects you to publicly address it as part of your company values.
Will silence be seen as indifference?
Calling out that you’re supportive of actionable policies and positive changes made to address diversity and inclusion is the expectation. If you’re not part of this message, it could be perceived that your company is indifferent to it.
Will those who matter to us expect us to do or say something?
It’s become equally as important to the public as it is to employees and stakeholder groups that you are using good workplace practices and taking steps to make everyone feel included and recognized.
And minority group or not, your most loyal and active audience expects you to be on top of diversity and inclusion. With appropriate diversity and inclusion messaging, even a latent public can become closer to your brand, which is good for business too.
If we wait to respond, do we lose the ability to influence the outcome?
You know the saying, “Now is already too late.” And chances are you’re already behind on this effort.
But in this case, it’s never too late to take a stance publicly because your audience expects your efforts to constantly evolve.
This isn’t a “set it and forget it” message. Diversity and inclusion messaging should continue as long as you expect your company to thrive.
Give diversity and inclusion the time it’s worth by making company efforts more dynamic, then communicate the message that you do care loudly and often. Your audience expects it.
Authored by Mimi Flatley, APR, Co-VP of Accreditation
A few years ago, a colleague and I spoke during a university communications class about how we started in our respective careers. We began by asking the soon-to-be grads where they hoped to work after college: For a sports team, at a large health care organization, in the hospitality industry, for a leading tech company, and so on. I wasn’t surprised that not one answer was the industry I’ve spent the past decade working in—the industry that builds the stadiums, hospitals, theme parks and offices these students hoped to work in—construction.
Communications in the construction industry was not on my radar after college. But there is no place I’d rather be. While the numbers aren’t that impressive – women make up less than 9 percent of the construction workforce according to the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) – the women I work with truly shine.
Companies who “get it” address the gaps and offer ways to support diverse groups. At Turner Construction, for example, our Women Impacting Turner (WIT) employee resource group serves as a support system in the company to foster awareness, respect and inclusion. Turner Orlando’s WIT group includes a roster of more than 50 employees with a mission to work as a diverse team to build knowledge of business and leadership skills, and empower each other to develop and maintain work environments that recognize and cultivate a culture of diversity.
Each year during NAWIC’s Women in Construction Week, the group organizes professional development, community outreach, and networking events to highlight women in our industry. This helps empower women in construction. Just this past week, the group attended jobsite tours hosted by female project managers, attended safety classes, and highlighted the success of tradeswomen, an even smaller percentage of the construction workforce (3 percent).
As a communications professional, I’m glad the numbers don’t scare me. In my role today, I’m surrounded by engineers, safety managers, superintendents, and project managers – women – who are building the future. When women support each other, our numbers do not decrease our impact.