Helen Shelton and Soon Mee Kim
Senior Partner and Executive Vice President, Global Diversity & Inclusion Leader
Finn Partners and Porter Novelli

Why should we as an industry care about Diversity and Inclusion? Referring to the words of Heather Heyer, who was killed in the Charlottesville violence of 2017: “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” Diversity and inclusion is both a moral imperative and a business imperative. It is about improving and transforming who we are as an industry.  Study after study, measure after measure, research supports that we are better organizations when we are more diverse and inclusive. It is critical that we provide equitable access to our industry and create environments where people want to grow their careers.

This is a defining moment in our industry — there is a lot being said about the importance of diversity. As leaders, we are responsible for creating the best workplace environments with respect to recruiting, hiring, mentoring; and strategic counseling. To create greater accountability, we have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It is up to us to lead the way.

At Porter Novelli and at Finn Partners, CEO involvement has been a critical part of our diversity and inclusion initiatives.  There has to be passion and buy-in at the top. Our CEOs evaluate all aspects of our agency business with regard to progress made against diversity.  This includes recruitment, internships, training, culture, and throughout our account teams, leadership and promotions

Across our agencies, we need those with a platform to use their platforms to advocate for others and measure their progress with real metrics. Only then will we see real change.

The PR Council is one of many important strategic partners facilitating this important work through its annual Diversity in Distinction Awards with PR Week. Awards and recognition are important as a piece of the process, but not for the pat on back, because we all have so far to go, but to take stock of what we are doing and what we can do better.

Some of the biggest obstacles we confront is not awareness or enthusiasm now, but fatigue and fragility for the importance of diversity and inclusion. This is not a trend. Diversity and inclusion is critical to the future of our industry on every level.  We can’t afford to wait for another generation or more — the transformation needs to happen now.

To hear more, listen to Soon Mee Kim & Helen Shelton’s episode on the Agencies of the Future podcast.