Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR
Diversity and inclusion are at the forefront of social conversation today. As our generational shift towards including people of all backgrounds and walks of life and away from the one dimensional days past, it’s important for those on the edge of this movement to lead by example.
Public relations is, among other things, all about image and maintaining it. Therefore, the behavior and public image that PR firms put out are of utmost importance. Along the lines of the concept of “walking the walk”, PR firms can lead by example when it comes to the social revolution that is diversity and inclusion.
What does this mean? It means that a PR firm cannot preach inclusion and represent clients authentically without practicing this themselves. Exploring hiring routines to seek more opportunities for diversity, finding ways to include more different individuals in marketing materials and internal roles, and supporting initiatives designed to drive inclusion forward are ways that firms can get involved and set an example for their clients.
Why is this so important? Because authenticity matters, now more than ever before. Consumers are wary, and they don’t want to be oversold on an idea that isn’t backed up with action. And in order to achieve that true level of authentic connection with consumers, brands must be prepared to not only display their commitment to prominent social causes but also show through actions that they’re dedicated to this.
This does not simply mean adding different looking people or people of different races to materials or to the staff. While this is absolutely a facet of inclusion, think of other ways to make this a clear initiative.
People with disabilities, different sexual orientations, and even those with varying levels of education are all demographics of people who need more inclusion in today’s work environments. This isn’t to say that someone should obtain a job simply off of one piece of criteria, but it should also not exclude them from the opportunity as has happened in the past.
PR firms looking to set an example should look into ways to support social initiatives such as disabled employment services or promoting skills acquired from a vocational school or work history as viable, hireable skill sets.
Another factor to consider here is the idea of genuinely undertaking a mission instead of simply doing so for appearances. A company should be wary of taking on a new social mission gratuitously. For a PR firm, doing so without genuine action could spell disaster and public fallout.
For PR firms, leading the charge by way of example can go a long way to helping clients improve their own initiatives as well as winning public favor and support. Care should be taken to undertake these initiatives with authenticity, but diversity and inclusion are important factors to consider when seeking new ways to connect with the public. Of course, an opportunity should not be the motivating factor behind including other demographics — this should come from a genuine place of wanting to make a difference and play a role in the development of a more inclusive environment for people of all appearances, backgrounds, and walks of life.
About the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR agency.