As communicators and public relations professionals, we are strategists and experts across many fields. During this unprecedented year, many of our efforts have been redirected to help our clients navigate the global COVID-19 pandemic. While it’s important to address the challenges of COVID-19, agencies must acknowledge another crisis 2020 has brought forward—systemic racism.
Although conversations about racism and discrimination are new for many—Black, Indigenous, and people of color have always faced these issues. During the past year, the Black Lives Matter movement has been a catalyst for the necessary conversations that are long overdue.
Earlier this year, many companies, including Quinn Thomas, released statements in solidarity with the BLM movement and now it’s time for all of us to take actions to follow up. As we approach the start of a new year, keeping the momentum to embrace diversity, equity and inclusion is crucial—both internally and through client work. It can be difficult to pinpoint the next steps on addressing these issues; here are some tips to continue the movement for a more equitable society.
There is often a misconception that there can’t be mistakes when it comes to DEI-related work. The truth is, it will be challenging but surely rewarding. What matters most is that companies continue taking steps that are sincere and demonstrate a commitment to creating change—that goes beyond simply being performative. This year has been a great start to addressing racial injustice—but the work doesn’t end now. There is an opportunity to contribute to enacting transformational change through consistent allyship.
Have a vision
Each agency should approach DEI in an authentic way that reflects a commitment to building a more diverse, inclusive, and anti-racist workplace. For agencies that haven’t already, start by creating a mission statement that encompasses an overarching vision for the organization’s DEI efforts. Think about what big picture success looks like and what you want to achieve. Look at other local firms or organizations for inspiration. At Quinn Thomas, our DEI committee incorporated our company values into our mission statement—values can often be overlooked, but they describe the core of an agency’s work.
DEI work requires being prioritized and not pushed to the back burner. To stay accountable, agencies should establish short and long-term goals to measure progress. At Quinn Thomas, we narrowed our vision into the following four statements:
- Cultivate an employee culture that celebrates our differences, values fair treatment, access, and opportunity for everyone
- Encourage consistent education around issues that impact marginalized groups
- Ensure that a DEI-centric mindset shows up in our internal processes as well as our external work
- Use our skills to contribute to a more equitable and just society
To remain accountable, create a work plan that outlines a timeline and specific steps to accomplish each goal. Make sure everyone has the ability to share resources, perspectives, and experiences as we all learn together.
2020 has been an uphill battle for everyone—but the silver lining is that it’s been a wake-up call. As communicators and marketers, we have the duty to go beyond just conforming to the norm and allowing systemic injustices to impact our communities. As we approach 2021, begin planning ways to build a more diverse and inclusive workplace. There isn’t a perfect formula for addressing racial injustice—but the important step is to know that the importance of DEI work isn’t exclusive to this year. Moving forward, reflect on the ways that your agency and team members can continue working toward transformational change in our industry.