Diversity and inclusion initiatives have been brought to the forefront for brands in recent weeks, and creating, implementing and sustaining them is no easy task that can be done in a day.
In order to help facilitate the important conversation around this, we tapped into the expertise of Joseph Cephas, SVP of Novità Communications for our third Take 5 Live session on LinkedIn Live.
Here are some key takeaways from the conversation:
1. What is the most important thing PR and comms pros can do right now to support diversity initiatives?
What most important is to clearly define the problem; define it as a global aspect and also locally. How does it affect you directly and what role is your firm playing? It's hard to solve a problem if you don't actually know what the problem is.
You also have to listen: What is the community saying? What are black employees saying? What are different publications saying? Then create a real substantive action plan. Action is what's going to make a real change.
It's time for us as a community to roll up our sleeves and do the work. Nobody said that this going to be easy. Diversity initiatives are not easy; it takes difficult conversations, research, realizations and self-reflections. But it is necessary and it is right. It is absolutely the right thing to do at this time. -Joseph Cephas
2. What about how they can help keep those initiatives going in the future?
The big concern is that as you get back into your daily life and the spotlight is no longer on this problem, things will die down. You have to couple those action plans with behavior change. For example, If a company puts a paternity leave policy in place but the culture isn't changed to encourage employees to actually use it, that doesn't create change.
You also have to accept that at some point you're going to do something wrong. The key is to learn from it, move on and do better. Don't just do the minimum (that would be just putting out a statement and not making any concrete plans of action.)
3. What do you think the most misunderstood aspect of implementing diversity initiatives is?
Be aware of the differences between individual racism and systemic racism and also where those things intersect. Individual actions can be backed up by systems.
Also be aware that every black person and person of color isn't a diversity expert. Individual employees of color may want to help, but there are people trained as experts in implementing diversity and inclusion programs and they should be hired when necessary.
4. A major theme that came out of our 2020 State of the Media Report was bias, but we all know personal bias extends beyond the media. What are your thoughts on how we can each approach this difficult subject?
If you're doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, you're not going to get the diversity you're looking for. Where are you recruiting? How does that system work? If you don't have a diverse staff now and you're only looking at their referrals, you're probably not going to find the diversity you're looking for.
Go to the pipeline. Talk to the kids in high school so that they know your industry is a career choice.