August is Diversity Month!
The practice of public relations in the United States has undergone dramatic changes, not only to the ways in which practitioners communicate and do business, but also in the actual demographics of its practitioners. Studies indicate that the industry still struggles to attract young Blacks, Asians, and Hispanics to pursue public relations as their career of choice, leading both the national PRSA and the San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter (PRSA SD/IC) to make this a key priority. In addition, a large number of U.S. corporations and major public relations agencies are making impactful changes to transform the industry.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2020, 36.5 percent of the U.S. population will be comprised of Blacks, Asians/Pacific Islanders, Hispanics/Latinos and Native Americans. Just as the industry has to adapt to changing technologies, it also has to respond to changes in its audience and talent pool.
Although the public relations industry has made some progress in diversifying the demographics of PR professionals to reflect the profile of the nation – and of many of the nation’s leading industries – and the top public relations educational programs have shown a lengthy commitment to diversifying the makeup of the industry, efforts must continue. While some companies and public relations agencies reflect the racial, ethnic and gender diversity of the overall population, and are walking the diversity talk, it is up to us – the practitioners – to promote, lead and implement this change.
Progress is being made by both national PRSA and PRSA SD/IC, which are committed to continuing to move our society forward. Diversity is not only about racial, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation and gender differences, but also about diversity of skill sets, mindsets and cultures at all levels of the organization.
In 2016, the national PRSA D&I Committee launched a revised version of the D&I toolkit, which was presented to the chapters in late spring. As an added bonus, a D&I checklist was developed to supplement the toolkit, which chapters can use to assess the steps they need to make their programming and membership more diverse, welcoming and inclusive.
“Our long-term goal is to help the public relations industry embrace a diverse and inclusive culture for recruitment and retention of talent,” says Sheila Tartaglia, national PRSA D&I Committee Chair, who is a consultant and brand strategist from New York.
The national PRSA D&I Committee also promotes awarding the PRSA Chapter Diversity Awards annually during the PRSA International Conference Diversity Mixer—an award which the PRSA SD/IC chapter received in 2015.
Locally, the PRSA SD/IC Diversity Committee leadership is comprised of: Hezekiah Herrera, APR (chair), Ann Marie Price (vice chair), May Robinson, Miranda Brown, David Rozul and Dayeon Cheong.
PRSA promotes diversity and inclusion across its chapters, districts, sections and the profession. To continue PRSA’s mission of “empowering a diverse community of members at every stage of their career with the knowledge and resources to advocate for the profession, achieve ethical and professional excellence, and drive the strategic outcomes of their organizations, the D&I Committee is committed to continue building consciousness by increasing visibility of D&I standards, resources and best practices while supporting PRSA short- and long-term goals.
The PRSA National and PRSA SD/IC D&I Committees commend PR firms and organizations that have established more diverse workplace environments and to those that established management programs to help minority groups and LGBT practitioners move up the corporate ladder.
To join the national PRSA D&I Committee Twitter chats, follow them at @PRSADiversity.