By: Veronica Figueroa Fernandez, PRSA Orlando Diversity & Inclusion Chair
In the wake of George Floyd’s death, we have seen a national outcry and protests against racism, injustice and police brutality occur worldwide, calling for change. Finding words to respond to social injustice isn’t easy, but there are steps we can take to navigate these issues with sensitivity.
At PRSA Orlando, we believe addressing diversity and inclusion, especially during this time of crisis, has never been more important. PRSA’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee recently unveiled its 2020-2022 D&I Strategic Plan and new D&I Toolkit, outlining the organization’s efforts to become more diverse and inclusive.
The strategic plan’s four objectives lay out the framework for PRSA, and its nationwide chapters, to fulfill its mission to position the organization as a model for the communications profession:
- Increase awareness and understanding of PRSA as a diverse and inclusive organization among its members and staff by 15% by 2023.
- Increase diverse representation among leadership throughout all levels of PRSA by 25% by 2023.
- Increase awareness of PRSA as a diverse and inclusive organization among external stakeholders by 15% by 2023.
- Increase and retain the number of multicultural students in PRSSA and new multicultural professionals into PRSA by 15% by 2023.
Additionally, the organization has acknowledged the lack of diversity across its membership and leadership and has shared definitive steps they are taking today:
Improve Diversity of Board of Directors
While the current Board is among the most diverse in the organization’s history, PRSA has asked the Governance Committee to reexamine the Bylaws and to recommend amendments that can help move barriers that have kept Board leadership out of reach for so many members, particularly members of color.
Increase Committee Participation
PRSA plans to engage more members from diverse backgrounds, including Black members, members of color, and LGBTQ+ members, with their national committees to ensure a range of perspectives and ideas are represented.
Expand Delegate Representation
PRSA is asking Chapter leadership to reevaluate how they choose delegates for the annual meeting of the Leadership Assembly and consider the ways in which they can bring new voices and members of underrepresented communities into the process.
Deliver on Diversity & Inclusion Strategic Plan
The three-year D&I Strategic Plan, published earlier this year, builds on research and investments by the Board that began in 2019 calls for an expansion of tools and resources across the organization to help build an inclusive community. Additionally, PRSA published a new D&I Toolkit that provides best practices and will help accelerate success and scale our efforts throughout the organization and the industry.
Develop Programs to Further Guide New Professionals
PRSA will be launching a pilot program to support new professionals of color, expanding upon past programs established by the College of Fellows and creating a comprehensive process to build more substantive and effective relationships. The program will launch this quarter and be available to the entire membership by the end of 2020.
Strengthen Relationship With HBCUs and HSIs
Our PRSSA students at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) need more advocates and resources to help bridge the gap between racial inequality and career advancement. Working closely with the faculty advisers at these institutions, PRSA will forge a deeper bond and connection with students interested in pursuing a career in communications and become a better ally to our future leaders.
Launch Training at the National and Local Levels
PRSA will provide unconscious bias training for all PRSA staff and Chapter, District & Section leadership this year and continue the instruction annually. They will also host professional development courses for all members focusing on D&I in the workplace and communicators’ roles in leading the conversation internally and externally for their organizations.
Pledge Support to Diversity Action Alliance
Along with the PRSA Foundation, PRSA is an active member of the Diversity Action Alliance (DAA) and has fully committed to the tenets of the coalition’s goals and objectives. Rooted in a mission to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in the communications and public relations profession, the DAA will provide transparency into the industry’s progress and hold stakeholders accountable and ensure we’re all working toward fulfilling our commitments.
PRSA Orlando believes that a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment fosters creativity, new perspectives, innovation, and better employee performance. Our chapter first introduced the Diversity & Inclusion Board Chair three years ago, in our continued efforts to increase focus on this important issue. Since then, our chapter won a 2018 PRSA Chapter Diversity & Inclusion Award, hosted its second annual Dinner, Diversity, & Dialogue gathering, and has continued to focus on providing meaningful blog posts and programs on the topic. We stand behind PRSA’s strategic vision and efforts to diversify our industry and create long-lasting change, and will continue to work hard to meet the needs of our underrepresented members.
We welcome suggestions from our PRSA Orlando members on how we can help communications professionals address diversity and inclusion in the profession and at large.
Please reach out to PRSA Orlando’s 2020 Diversity and Inclusion Chair, Veronica Figueroa, to continue the discussion.