The Importance of DEI efforts in a predominantly white profession

Historically, people of color have not been afforded the same opportunities as their white counterparts. Instead, we have been overlooked and overshadowed, even in our professions. As a Black woman in the public relations profession, I have witnessed firsthand the carelessness of non-Black professionals. I have sat on the side of disappointment, confusion, and annoyance toward those who seemingly choose to overlook Black and brown voices. However, through volunteerism with the Hoosier chapter, I have found myself navigating through various spaces and conversations, in an effort to bridge the gap between the predominantly White members and the few Black/brown members.

For public relations professionals specifically, we are aware that that the majority of our colleagues will be white. Moreover, we know that many within our profession will often fall short in their efforts to adequately utilize and uplift the Black and Brown voices they interact with.

In 2020, as a chapter we were reminded of our negligence in highlighting and engaging our minority counterparts in our industry. We, the Hoosier Chapter, embrace the diversity within our chapter and organization. We strive to be intentional about incorporating diverse leadership and diversity of thought into our everyday practice.

We recently adopted the following Diversity & Inclusion Statement, which was developed by national PRSA and requested for adoption by all chapters. As a chapter, we plan to establish specific strategies and metrics to support how we will bring this statement to life at the local level.

We know that this statement is not enough, but it is the first of many steps that will lead us towards our commitment to make necessary changes in our chapter and our industry.

PRSA Hoosier Chapter Diversity and Inclusion statement:

Diversity and inclusion are integral to the evolution and growth of PRSA and the public relations industry.

The most obvious contexts of diversity include race, ethnicity, religion, age, ability, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, country of origin, culture and diversity of thought. However, in a rapidly changing society, diversity continues to evolve and can include class, socioeconomic status, life experiences, learning and working styles, personality types and intellectual traditions and perspectives, in addition to cultural, political, religious and other beliefs.

These defining attributes impact how we approach our work, connect with others and move through the world.

Inclusion, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), is defined as “the achievement of a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organization’s success.”

Inclusion is not just about having that “seat at the table” but is about ensuring everyone’s voice is heard and fully considered.

Diversity and inclusion are proactive behaviors.

Respecting, embracing, celebrating and validating those behaviors are integral to PRSA’s DNA. Diversity and inclusion are vital to the success of our profession, our members and the communities in which we live and work. It is essential and is our responsibility as members of the Society to carry this forward.

Please stay tuned for more updates and information on our diversity and inclusion efforts. In the meantime, we are recruiting for committee volunteers in the following roles:

  • Communications
  • Member Services
  • Advocacy & Ethics
  • Membership
  • Professional Development
  • Research & Operations
  • Strategic Planning

Please let us know if you’re interested in getting involved in any of the above committees in 2021! Thank you!

— Brytnie Jones is an account coordinator at Hirons and serves as the chair of multicultural affairs/diversity for the PRSA Hoosier Chapter
— Jennifer Young Dzwonar is a partner, crisis and community relations at Borshoff and serves as the director of advocacy and ethics on behalf of the PRSA Hoosier Chapter