USING EMPATHY AND CURIOSITY TO BUILD INCLUSIVE CULTURES

A PRSA NJ Board Diversity & Inclusion Discussion

What does it take to embark on a successful diversity and inclusion (D&I) discussion? It requires taking bold steps that include refection and commitment. That was the framework for the May 26th D&I discussion with PRSA NJ Board Members, organized by the chapter’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

Committee Chair Stephanie K. Reed introduced guest speakers Simone Sloan and Kelly Fuller from Your Choice Coach. Topics included defining diversity and inclusion, impediments to diversity and inclusion, creating an inclusive toolbox, the importance of taking action to nurture D&I, moving from unconscious bias to conscious inclusion, and allyship.

Sloan and Fuller led the 60-minute discussion and provided participants with the opportunity to share their personal reflections on this season of racial injustice discourse as well as the sensitive and often uncomfortable nature of conversations around diversity and inclusion.

Sloan explained that diversity and inclusion is a different journey for everyone based on individual perspectives that are influenced by environment, life experience, and level of privilege. Sloan described this journey as climbing a mountain of change. For some, the incline is not very steep and the top of the mountain is smooth, direct, and not really viewed as a mountain at all. For others, climbing the mountain is tricky. You think you’re almost at the top, assured that you have arrived, only to realize that you are not as close as you thought. Meanwhile, others find themselves at the base of the mountain looking up daunted by the prospect of having to climb so far.

“Change is not an easy process, it takes time, and it can be emotional. Intentionality, deliberation, and patience are important when experiencing change,” offered Simone Sloane. “When engaging in a DEI culture change, to maximize impact, be intentional and invest resources with each step of the journey. Be tenacious with reaching milestones that will lead to sustainable outcomes. Check in with your teams to understand where they are in their DEI journey.”

According to 2018 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the ethnic makeup of the PR industry in the U.S. is: 87.9% white, 5.7% Hispanic or Latinx, 8.3% Black or African American, and 2.6% Asian American.

As PR professionals we can play a critical role in helping our industry climb the “mountain of change.”

Here are a few key takeaways from the PRSA NJ Board Diversity & Inclusion discussion:

  1. Shift from apathy to empathy. Listen to and respect other people. Acknowledge what’s happening. Demonstrate respect for others. Develop a mental understanding to be proactive in your internalization and action.
  2. Move through each day with an inclusive mindset to transform organizations that will welcome and support everyone.
  3. Identify ways you can take action and make a commitment to foster diversity and inclusion in your personal life, your community, and in your workplace.
  4. Follow through with your commitment to act and make a difference in your personal life, your community, and in your workplace.

Share with us how you’ve used empathy and curiosity to effect change in diversity and inclusion. Let us know what you’ve seen in your company or workplace. Email us at PRSANJDiversity@gmail.com

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