2020 was the most insightful and heartbreaking year for underrepresented minority groups in America. Early last year, George Floyd's death ignited all minorities, particularly Black people, to realize that change was not only essential, but critical. Many businesses have taken strides to speak against social injustice and put their money where their mouth is by donating. However, there is still work to do when it comes to supporting underrepresented groups in corporate America.
The diverse makeup of the PR industry is grossly unsaturated. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2019, the U.S. PR industry holds 87.9% white, 8.3% African American, 2.6% Asian American and 5.7% Hispanic American people.
Before 2020, most PR agencies avoided conversations about ethnicity, race, gender due to its label as a "taboo" topic or not having enough exposure to discuss them accurately.
Although last year made many agencies create actionable change for underrepresented groups, we only saw black squares on Instagram and empty statements to hire more people of color with no real progression. They made claims to have donated funds, changing their hiring criteria and more, but how many companies have kept their pledge?
Supporting people of color is a 24/7, 365 days a year role that they need to actively and consistently contribute to.
We're Watching, and We Want Better
As a Black woman, I want to see people in executive leadership roles who look like me and understand the nuances of being a minority in an industry that doesn't often highlight diversity.
CEOs must understand their diverse employees' difficulties and uniqueness, have honest conversations about diversity and fight for social justice while — most importantly — listening to their diverse staff to move forward and create tangible change.
Having a CEO who is a minority has allowed our company to create a safe space inclusive for everyone. Though every CEO, minority or not, can make a difference by implementing fundamental initiatives.
- Accountability: Executive team members recognizing their need to work with diverse team members and create an inclusive environment.
- Giving everyone a seat at the table: Regardless of seniority or role in the company, allowing everyone to discuss their ideas and give feedback on high-level projects.
- Invest in our future: Work with employees to create initiatives that excel their expertise and excellence and lead initiatives.
- Hire and promote: Creating full-time and part-time employment opportunities explicitly tailored for BIPOC and promote us to leadership and executive positions.
- Rally the community: Encourage other companies to take a stand and pledge to support diverse communities.
- Consistent conversations: Having frequent conversations about social injustice issues and allowing us a safe space to openly discuss situations that have affected us.
"The norms and notions of what just is isn't always justice. For there is always light if only we're brave enough to see it if only we're brave enough to be it."
— Amanda Gorman, Inaugural Poet Laureate
Public relations professionals, I implore you: think more, listen more, do more and be more conscious of your current company practices and what you can do to foster and flourish diverse excellence.