Following our first installment in this series of blogs, I’ve been reflecting on how we can not only acknowledge the diversity issues within our industry, but address them and implement change for the better. The topic of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion can often be scary and uncomfortable to confront – especially in a professional working environment. But, if we’re to drive change then it’s time to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Professionalism and education are not mutually exclusive in any industry – pointing out any form of discrimination isn’t about chastising, it’s about growth. It’s not aggressive, it’s nurturing. Values of equity should be built from the top down in a business and championed at all levels – even in a client / agency relationship. It’s important to remember that, in PR, the most effective client / agency relationships aren’t just about what you’re willing to give as a PR professional, but also about how much your client is willing to give back to you. In entering into a contract with an agency, a client is agreeing to the way you work and the values and processes you uphold as a business: equity, diversity and inclusion is just as much a part of this as your deliverables and KPIs.
CommsCo’s Moral Compass
The moral compass of your business should sit at the heart of everything you do – in the same way that it steers the reputation of you and your clients, it should inform your internal practices too. As recent PR disasters in this space have proven all too well – negative reputations are very hard to shake. Just as we help map out and shape the industry that our clients operate in, at CommsCo we want to be paving the way to shape the future workplace culture into one of diversity and equality too.
With the news that one in five LGBTQ+ people working in PR and Communications have experienced discrimination in the workplace because of their sexual or gender identity, we must look to advocate for the LGBTQ+ community on a daily basis, make it a natural part of doing business. Take the time to educate on the “why” behind the values of equality as a company and prove to your LGBTQ+ employees that they have the support not just of their immediate colleagues but the business as a whole. Allyship shouldn’t be an optional heroic gesture of an active few, it should feel more part of the terms and conditions of a contractual obligation of working with and for your agency.
Being An Industry Role Model
If the pandemic has taught us anything as a small agency, it’s that if you want to survive you have to move with the times and react to the ever-changing business landscape. An integral part of that is not just accepting but championing diversity within the fabric of the industry. We want diversity and equity to become an integral part of CommsCo’s day-to-day operations both internally and externally, so that they will grow into a valuable business asset too. If we have to part ways with prejudiced clients or employees, we know that they’ll be swiftly replaced with ones who share our values, who resonate with the way our team operates and will actively seek out our forward thinking comms professionals as role models for their own company PR.
The world is focussed on ushering in a new era of work right now, and we want to make equality a part of that too. CommsCo’s first step is about building a safe space to share experiences and learn from each other and there’s never a bad time to start with proactivity. Don’t risk waiting for a crisis to fix: strengthen the cracks to prevent one in the first place. We shouldn’t just be delivering honest, open and communication to our clients – we owe the same to ourselves as an industry too.
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