I recently attended the National Summit on Antiracism in Public Relations and Communications organized by AntiracismPR and McMaster MCM in Canada.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect – so often these conversations end up being a dainty dance around difficult truths. I was pleasantly surprised from the get-go. Speakers were informative, data driven and authentic.
After two days of thought-provoking content, keynote speaker @Leo_Johnson gave a rousing rally cry – ‘act within your means’ and ‘do what you can.’
I suspect he knew that inevitably we would wander back to life as we know it now, in our homes, on marathon zoom calls, commitments fading into distant memory.
But the urgency remains, and we must find ways to take action.
My action today is amplify some of the key takeaways from the #antiracismpr summit that I tweeted last week. I hope it spurs you on to think a little harder about how you can make a difference, especially if you work in the field of communications.
There’s a short summary below and you can also see the full tweet thread on Wakelet.
Click here to see my tweet thread on the #AntiracismPR Summit https://wke.lt/w/s/lVoWTy via @wakelet
Tackle issues at the Board level
Boards need people with deep communications expertise. Comms is often overlooked as a skillset while areas such as legal, finance, marketing, engineering and strategy are favored. A communications strategist brings a unique lens – and can illuminate areas such as reputation, inclusive messaging, and ensuring that your first stakeholders (your people) understand the real value that a board brings to the company. Boards must tackle racism head-on and they need to be diverse. What does your company board look like?
Push for change and find allies
Agitating for change can be exhausting. It’s even more challenging in toxic environments. But allowing exclusion and systemic racism to slide through unchecked is not an option. You have the power to champion diversity, equity and inclusion daily, and demand leadership attention. Toxic environments don’t heal themselves. Have authentic conversations about the issues in a well-researched and respectful way. Are you confident that you can raise issues at your company especially when you see bias?
Use the DEI Continuum to measure progress
It’s worth looking up the DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) Continuum which takes a step-by-step approach towards equity and inclusion. This is the ultimate goal that organizations should strive towards.
Your company might have moved beyond level 0 which is complete denial. But hovering at level 1 – with ‘tick the box’ exercises and compliance at a minimum isn’t much progress. At level 2 companies move beyond compliance but there is no real pathway to progress and actions stop when interest fades.
Level 5 is the goal where the company achieves equity and inclusion for all and moves to influence this beyond its own boundaries. Where is your company on the continuum?
The close of the summit was particularly powerful. The keynote speaker was passionate and a doer, not a talker. I was struck by many of his messages, particularly when he said, “All I am asking is for you to change yourself.”
Somehow, it always lands here doesn’t it – with change? Sparking change, embracing change and being the change we want to see.
May we all be brave enough to be that change agent who helps to create a more just, equitable and inclusive world for all. What action will you take today?
Leave a comment below. Share your thoughts and let’s make change happen.
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© Arlene Amitirigala 2021. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.