Thoughts about DEI, PR, and organizations

I have had the pleasure of giving several diversity, equity, and inclusion workshops since June 2020. Here are some of the key thoughts I have had based on my presentation and the questions asked.

The public relations function serves as the boundary spanner between the organization and its publics. It goes without saying that PR folks keep the pulse of what is happening in the environment and between its stakeholders. Communication creates reality; it builts organizational culture and contrbutes to healthy organizational climate. We are positioned to be at the forefront of these DEI conversations.

DEI is not just an issue for human resources. Every function should be responsible and concerned. Every function plays a part.

We have to think beyond diversity. It’s important to consider equity, inclusion, access, and justice.

Too often, when thinking about diversity initiatives, we think in terms of tactics. We want to jump right in to the tangible solutions we see others doing without thinking about whether or not those will work for our brand or organization. As my grandmother who say when making dresses for me, “Measure three times. Cut once.” Every effort we do in organizations requires measurement — research before, during, and after implementation. I cued up a great quotation to plug this point: “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” (I believe this is from Sun Tzu. I might be wrong. Whoever said it is spot on.)

Another thing we have to consider is whatever works for one person may not work for another. Every organization has to work based on its own speed, stretch, and distance. Some organizations can deploy within days. Some has bureaucracy that takes a bit more of a push and time to get the momentum going. Some organizations have pursued this for awhile. Others are just reading the tea leaves and getting started.

Organizations have to go at the appropriate pace, but that does not mean dragging its collective feet in an effort to avoid the doing.

You have to communicate what you are doing. You can’t just meet in silence or move in silence. Let the organization’s stakeholders know what is happening.

If you’re going to communicate, you need to have some results. Plans are great. But people want to see and know that the plan has movement. Actions trump words. Walk the talk.

You can see more of my thoughts from the presentation I did for Ragan and will give again for CUNA.


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