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    PRSA Colorado Testimonials: Diversity and Inclusion

    PRSA Colorado Testimonials: Diversity and Inclusion

    In September, PRSA is not only celebrating ethics month by challenging public relations professionals to talk about ethical dilemmas and providing resources, but we are also turning the conversation to diversity and inclusion. Below are quotes provided by local chapter leaders regarding how diversity and inclusion have shaped them as PR professionals

    Jose Salas, spokesperson, Denver Water

    I have been the minority for most of my life, as I was born in Mexico, but migrated to the U.S. when I was 12. Thankfully, though, I have been blessed to almost never feel like a minority because I have been surrounded by family, friends, mentors and a network like PRSA to remind me that I belong and that the color of my skin, background or language do not define my success.

    Of course, this doesn’t take away from the reality that diversity and inclusion are a real challenge in our society. As community leaders, we must place diversity and inclusion at the forefront of everything we do, personally and professionally. We must be the ones who help remove barriers by empowering, mentoring and encouraging those who need it most so that our communities can thrive.

    Michelle Lyng, CEO, Novitas Communications

    The public relations industry strives to be an industry in which opportunity thrives for underrepresented voices. That should be clear and a minimum goal. Beyond that the minimum goal of being more inclusive because it’s the right thing to do, it’s also a good business practice. There is a business case to be made for having diverse voices around the table as messaging is crafted and strategy is developed. Not only am I talking about people of different races, but people from different socioeconomic backgrounds, political ideologies, education levels, life experiences, and more.

    I estimate that about two-thirds of public relations missteps are due to the lack of diversity in the creative process – people who will flag messages or strategies that sound tone deaf – or downright offensive – to specific demographics. When we make room for diverging viewpoints in the creative process, we end up with better work product and more inclusive work environments. It’s really that simple.

    Liz Viscardi, Owner, LV Events and PR 

    Diversity and inclusion are important to me because I learn through different experiences, unique backgrounds, varying cultures and distinct perspectives. I think it is important to incorporate what I learn into my day-to-day public relations practices. If we all had the same experiences and paths, it would make the world very boring. We need diversity and inclusion to continue to grow both professionally, personally and as an industry. 

    Kelly Wagoner, Director of Get Ahead Colorado, The Piton Foundation

    As a Communications and Journalism major in college, I worked in a newsroom in New Mexico wanting to explore what direction I wanted to take my career. What I saw firsthand was how the editorial process and decisions reflected people's biases and often created a false narrative. On one occasion, there were two clips of black people sharing their perspective on a story -- the footage that was selected to be included in the story was of the black person who was not as articulate or professional looking as the other. When I questioned why they did not use footage with the other person, I was told it was too long to fit into the package, which, when I looked at the time stamps, was not the case. 

    Media is powerful, and the content we create and people consume can create a narrative that is not only not always accurate, but harmful. While we all have biases, it is important to have a diversity of people at the table whose voices have equal weight and importance to ensure our communications are reflective of and value the diverse communities of which we are a part. 

    Sam Aspnes, Associate II, CIG

    As a PRSA member, I'm committed to fostering equity, inclusion and diversity in our profession — and to always learn and work to understand perspectives other than my own. Diversity is crucial because as professional communicators, we have an ethical duty to understand how to communicate with, and on behalf of diverse communities. This starts not just with me, but with our PRSA community, to work to understand, educate, train and mentor people from all backgrounds — and build a workforce that reflects our clients and the communities in which we serve.

     

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