We all share the same revulsion and horror at the events that have taken place in our country. Against the backdrop of the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 crisis on people of color, we add a number of disgusting, racist encounters, and now the gut-wrenching killing of George Floyd, the latest unarmed Black person to die at the hands of law enforcement.
Even if you live and work far from Minneapolis, the resulting protests and violence have spread to many of our communities. But largely unseen is the toll all of these situations are taking on our employees.
This is a moment for us to reflect on the damage and anger resulting from centuries of institutional racism in our country. As industry leaders, we have a responsibility to fight racism in all forms and do what is right. Doing nothing is unacceptable. We need to deploy the power of communications to meet this moment.
Here are some things we can all do:
- Communicate with people of color in your workplaces and those from underrepresented communities to acknowledge the pain they are feeling. Especially check on your Black colleagues, who are reeling from recent events. Start conversations and demonstrate active listening to let the entire organization learn from and acknowledge the experience of these colleagues. Instead of assuming a person of color is comfortable representing all Blacks, ask if he or she is willing to share personal thoughts and perspective.
- Communicate with your employees at-large to assert your commitment to diversity and inclusion and denounce racism. Make a promise (and then live it) that your organization will not tolerate any racist behaviors by employees or clients.
- Communicate to all of your constituents that you and your organization are committed to being anti-racist. And then talk with your employees about what actions you can take to demonstrate anti-racism. (You might revisit the book How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi as a thought-starter.) Make public your list of commitments and then report back on how you’re doing.
With the thoughtful input of our D&I community, the PR Council will continue to look at ways we can measurably improve D&I in our industry and welcome any thoughts and ideas you would like to share.
Helen Shelton and Soon Mee Kim, PRC D&I Community Leaders
Jim Joseph, PRC Board Chair
Kim Sample, PRC President