For decades, it’s been said that an organization, industry, company or government should reflect its constituency. But we know that’s not often the case, and the field of Public Relations is, unfortunately, no exception. We are a predominantly white industry and PRSA – locally, regionally and nationally – is a predominantly white professional organization. But because PR is, by definition, a dialogue with key audiences, it is imperative that those conducting/attempting the relations have a full understanding and competency with those audiences. Our entire field will be better when we have more Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in our ranks.
So, what’s the Hoosier Chapter to do about this? A few things, actually, and we need your help. You may have noticed that our board and committees have intentionally had more diverse speakers and panelists for our programs. We are trying to make our website and social media more representative, so that students and others can see themselves in our profession. Our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee has five dedicated members, and we welcome more of you to join us! We’ve conducted an annual survey of pros who identify as people of color to see what we can do as a chapter to help everyone feel more welcome, more included, and that the organization is a worthwhile use of their time and resources. All of the above have made for far better discussions, learnings, breadth and depth of content.
One big new step this year was to offer grants to a BIPOC pro who’s interested in earning their APR and to a BIPOC pro who’s interested in joining our chapter. A big thanks to Hirons for underwriting these grants! We’re thrilled to announce that Hyacinth Rucker has been awarded the APR grant and Lateva Woolfork has been awarded the membership grant! Please congratulate each of them, and please invite a friend to a PRSA event to get to know us and to potentially join our merry band! We will all be better as individuals, as a professional organization, and as an industry with more diversity in our membership, and it takes each of us doing everything we can to help that happen.
Jennifer Young Dzwonar, APR, Fellow PRSA, is a partner at Borshoff and serves as the director of advocacy and ethics on behalf of the PRSA Hoosier Chapter