Helen C. Shelton
Senior Partner
Finn Partners

From Madison Avenue to Hollywood and all points in between, the issue of Diversity and Inclusion in the communications industry is one of the most buzzed about, studied and evaluated topics in our field.  While significant strides are being made and agencies are becoming increasingly mindful and forward-thinking in their hiring practices, cultural environments, and equity in compensation and benefits for all, diversity and inclusion still remain issues to contend with.

At Finn Partners, I work in our Travel & Lifestyle practice and also direct Diversity and Inclusion initiatives for the Agency.  As one of the fastest-growing independent PR firms in the world, Finn Partners is regarded as among the best places to work in our industry.   I like to believe this is partly due to the fact that diversity plays a significant role in our expansion. I have the great privilege to work every day with fellow brethren from America and people who hail from Malaysia, Uruguay, the Philippines, Jamaica, Turkey and South Africa, among other countries.  They represent many races, religions and backgrounds.  This makes for a dynamic and exciting environment in which to work, collaborate and ultimately deliver amazing results for our clients.

While I love all aspects of my job, I consider my work in the Diversity and Inclusion space to be a particular honor. As an African American, I also consider it a responsibility – telling the stories and creating initiatives and campaigns that accurately and effectively address the interests and needs of diverse audiences is something I live for each day.

I was therefore humbled and beyond thrilled to learn that I was selected by ColorComm to receive the 2016 Circle Award honoring women of color who are “changing the face of the communications industry.”  Much of what we practice at Finn Partners mirrors what ColorComm is– a movement – a movement that galvanizes, inspires and above all uplifts an audience that is so often overlooked, set aside or not included.

We all came away from C2 2016 with a reinvigorated commitment to using our positons to help foster change and improvement.  In my case, the first step is to continue the push for PR firms to make diversity a priority.  Once firms take on the challenge – beginning with dedicated minority recruiting efforts – they must also encourage and foster an environment of inclusion where people are encouraged to voice their professional opinions and have a seat at the table when decisions are being made, clients and ideas are being pitched and plans are being developed.

With approximately 20 percent of Finn Partners comprised of minorities, we recognize the need to help establish and build the base of diversity among students and young people of color – nurturing them, training them and encouraging their ideas and thoughts in the workplace.  Part of that thinking helped us to establish Finn Partners DiversityWorks™, an agency-wide initiative that encourages our offices around the world to be proactive in their approach to identifying, recruiting and retaining diverse employees.  We also encourage our employees to engage with organizations like ColorComm that are working hard to involve minority populations and the PR Council that are helping public relations agencies ready their firms and cultures to ensure retention is a priority.

Championing diversity in communications is not just something we must do, it is something we should live each day.