How are WE going to work together to finally move our industry forward with the diversity and inclusion conversation?
For years our industry has talked about improving diversity of race, age, sex, sexual orientation, socio-economic background and more. With the Black Lives Matter campaign it has brought a new opportunity to restart that conversation and more importantly, agree how we’ll collectively move forward and take action.
There are industry reports, organisations have started groups, but there has never been an industry-wide effort. And that is what I think it will take to really make a change, not just another campaign. For those of us who work in change management and culture change, we know it’s a process which takes years. Is now the time we can firmly put a stake in the ground, as the day we agree to move forward and take action?
The whole idea of the manifesto has come about as a result of being called out for my mistake, not balancing the speaker list and being representative of our industry. It was a genuine oversight and I’ve apologised for this. Since the realisation, i’ve been working harder than ever, (every day since), to make a meaningful contribution to the industry and to make PRFest’s platform useful.
My whole experience of the last two weeks, it’s been like a rollercoaster, has now made me realise that not only do we have a major issue in the industry, but we don’t really have a industry-wide way forward. It’s not something a campaign can solve.
Last week I announced the PRFest diversity and inclusion session, DRIVEN, which features Rax who chairs the PRCA’s Diversity and Inclusion network and Kuldeep, who is a Taylor Bennett Foundation alumnus. Since the announcement, I’ve spoken to industry bodies (PRCA and CIPR), communities, people of influence and invited other people to contribute to the conversation. The willingness to get involved in the development of the manifesto is strong! There’s a sense of urgency and a sense of community to work together, which is amazing.
This needs to be a collaborative effort if it’s going to work. It needs to involve not only big agencies, who have good resources and big teams to quickly make impact, but it needs to involve in-house teams who directly influence organisations and their entire diversity and inclusion policy and practice, and all the way to freelancers and consultants who have opportunities for further collaboration to make change.
So, here’s my thinking fleshed out a bit and to explain what’s happening at PRFest on Wednesday morning.
Rax and Kuldeep will take us through top-line research, experiences and thoughts, plus, we will go through the new DRIVEN model.
Collaboratively in groups we’ll go over the challenges we’ve identified and brainstorm solutions, and then discuss as a community.
The solutions may include some of the below and we’ll need to identify what is already on offer and where, plus any gaps which need addressed.
- leadership opportunities
- evaluation tools
- diversity business planning
- agreed messaging and language we’ll use
- personality tests
- active listening
- recruiter conversations
- decision tree
We’ll collate the data and put into a draft manifesto. We’ll then go back out to industry (quickly after PRFest) and collaboratively finalise the manifesto, discussing how we will adapt and adopt, how it’ll be monitored and how organisations will be report on it, or be held accountable, or will gain some sort of grading/accreditation.
The important thing we’ve identified so far in conversations is that people, individuals, can make changes really quickly in their work and their life. We’ll be asking people to make commitments at PRFest, including volunteering as a Taylor Bennett Foundation mentor, for ethnic minority students and alumni.
It can’t be a one-sided approach and left to one person or one organisation and if we don’t collaboratively discuss and agree the best approach, the situation will keep occurring in our industry.
There is no silver bullet, but I’d like to open this discussion up and collectively agree actions and how progress will be made.
Every organisation and person so far has been excited about the concept and the idea is now to convene the conversation after PRFest to make shit happen!
So let’s educate ourselves and our people and let’s try and change together.
As always, please do get in touch with me to help input and develop the manifesto as well as the actions we must take. My inbox is always open!