One of the overwhelming themes of 2020 was diversity and inclusion. For good reason: the inequities in our society are impossible to ignore.
This year, public relations pros were part of important conversations that spanned corporate silos about beginning to evaluate and address inequities through corporate diversity and inclusion efforts. Often, PR pros were simultaneously looking at external communications and community relations to see how companies could play a role in creating a more equitable community.
These conversations are an important first step. However, talk without action only leads to more empty promises, which in turn can damage a company’s reputation.
As 2020 comes to a close, here are a few key areas companies can evaluate as they decide how to make changes in 2021:
It’s common for HR departments to make updates to employee handbooks, policies, procedures and benefits this time of year. Company holidays should be added to the list to consider for updates that have diversity and inclusion in mind.
Many U.S. corporate holidays follow the Christian calendar, but Americans are increasingly more diverse in their faiths. Consider adding Jewish holidays like Yom Kippur or Islamic holidays to be more inclusive. Also, consider adding holidays that are important to American history like Juneteenth and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Some companies allow for flex holidays so employees can decide when to observe holidays that are important to them.
Look at the imagery that your company uses, and determine if it’s homogenous, or represents a fully diverse community. A communications audit can analyze the photography that your company uses in its brochures, collateral, social media, websites and ads. Ideally, your employees and customers should see themselves in your photography.
Update your brand guide to mandate imagery that represents a diverse range of cultures and lifestyles in 2021 (and beyond). Change the images that you use throughout your communications and marketing. Resources like TONL can help companies update their image libraries.
Companies like to cite a “talent gap” as part of the challenge in hiring diverse talent. “Opportunity gap” might be a more accurate name for it. Some students don’t have the option to take unpaid internships or the opportunity to know how to find or land an internship.
Be a part of introducing diverse talent to your industry. Speak to classes at historically Black colleges and universities, and share your company’s internships with professors at HBCUs. Mentor students and young professionals who are looking to learn more about your industry, or in business overall.
Other candidates might be removed from consideration when names or photos are included on resumes. Ask HR to remove names and photos to eliminate potential biases and score candidates based solely on relevant experience and skills.
Getting involved with trade associations that represent specific genders, cultures or ethnicities is another way to close the opportunity gap and widen the candidate pool.
For example, tech companies might get involved in Women Who Code and those in PR and journalism may consider involvement in the Society of Black Journalists. Or consider chambers of commerce that represent specific groups, like a GLBT+ chamber or Indo-American Chamber.
In 2021, PR professionals should continue to place a priority on diversity and inclusion. It’s a critical component of corporate social responsibility and can make a major positive impact toward achieving equity in the long-term.
And diversity fuels an organization’s success: Hearing from a diverse range of people in your organization as you make decisions ensures that you are taking a course that will match your employees’ and your customers’ needs.
B2 frequently works with companies to review their diversity and inclusion efforts and enhance their employee recruiting and retention. Reach out to see how we can help you.