by Chris Hayes, D&I Committee Member
The first half of the year is packed with diversity and inclusion observances, like Black History Month, Women’s History Month and PRIDE month, but leaders know that creating an inclusive communications industry is a year-round initiative. There’s no better time than today to reinforce our shared commitment to opening up the conversation to underserved and underrepresented groups. Celebrating diversity and creating a culture of belonging helps people gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of each other and honoring each other’s differences.
Making real, tangible change is an ongoing responsibility, and if you’re looking for opportunities to further your support of diverse groups below are tactics that will set you on the right path.
Sponsor Women and People of Color
When it comes to supporting women and members of historically marginalized communities (HMCs), there’s a big difference between mentorship and sponsorship. While many leaders and people in positions of power believe they are sponsoring underrepresented groups, in reality they are acting solely as mentors. The key difference between the two is influence.
Mentorship focuses on methods of direct help such as guidance, feedback and coaching. On the other hand, sponsorship involves externally facing support – advocacy, visibility and promotion. When a boss or leader amplifies the work or accomplishments of their minority employee, they are aiming to positively influence an audience’s perception of that employee. Instead of a two-way street between the sponsor and protege, it becomes a three-way relationship between the sponsor, protege and audience.
If you’re an executive, team leader or influencer in the workplace, consider ways you can sponsor women and people of color instead of just mentoring them.
Educate Yourself on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
If you are looking for an easy way to become more inclusive in your work and/or personal life, there’s no better starting point than education. It could be as simple as reading books about other cultures, watching movies that depict the struggles of underserved groups or listening to podcasts hosted by people with varying perspectives. No matter what approach you take, you are guaranteed to come away from the experience with newfound knowledge that will benefit you and those around you.
You can also take a step back and listen more carefully to your friends and coworkers of different races, genders, sexuality and cultures. Engage in conversation with them and ask them for ways you can help be a more inclusive, supportive ally. Other ideas could be to participate in diversity and inclusion training at work and support minority businesses.
Recognize Implicit Biases
While nobody has control over how their upbringing affected their implicit biases, we do have control over how we identify these biases and move forward. In the workplace, implicit biases can lead to decreased productivity, underutilization of talent and stunted innovation and business growth. In our personal lives, these biases can result in fractured relationships and resentment among family, friends and colleagues. That’s why it’s so important that we learn to recognize our inherent biases and do what we can to eliminate them.
The first step toward removing implicit bias is to simply understand that they exist in everyone. By familiarizing yourself with racial, age, and gender biases, you can begin to recognize when you are engaging in them. Additional steps to help remove these biases include exposing yourself to a wide array of social groups and attending events of different cultures, practicing mindfulness, and adjusting your perspective to varying points of view.
Whether you’re a seasoned advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion or if you’re just starting your journey, there’s always more work to be done to help elevate and support underserved and underrepresented groups professionally and culturally.
Learn More & Take the PRSA Pittsburgh D&I Pledge
PRSA Pittsburgh encourages its members to access its Diversity & Inclusion Toolkit for more information on ways to cultivate diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Additionally, PRSA Pittsburgh’s D&I Committee is proud to present our D&I pledge to PRSA members. The intent of the pledge is to advance diversity and inclusion in the communications and PR profession. After taking the pledge, we hope employers spark hard conversations in their workplaces and begin to build a more diverse and inclusive environment, ultimately earning deeper trust and more commitment from their employees.
PRSA Pittsburgh encourages members to virtually sign and commit to our D&I pledge. We also encourage members to print out and share the pledge (PDF) with their colleagues and peers who may not have access to technology.
Communications and PR professionals of all identities and seniority levels are encouraged to inquire about joining our Diversity & Inclusion Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.