2019 Offers Diverse New Opportunities and Challenges for Strategic Communicators

We’re already entering the third month of 2019, and it’s clear that communications professionals can play an active role in helping employers and clients benefit from greater cultural diversity in the workplace and the greater community. Those benefits are both reputational and contribute to an organization’s bottom line. In 2019, communicators can be strategic partners to leaders in their roles as culture builders.

Several recent articles I’ve read, and conversations with D&I leaders and communications colleagues, have reaffirmed the business importance of developing more diverse leadership. Companies like Netflix, M&T Bank, and Uber have deliberately increased the diversity of their organization’s leadership, and their businesses are thriving because of it. Research confirms the real benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace can lead to improved organizational performance and success. Organizations whose executive teams reflect the diverse culture that is the American melting pot are growing and succeeding.

As communicators, we can leverage our professional platforms both internally and externally to enhance appreciation for D&I programs. Furthermore, we can help with the ongoing challenges of recruitment and retention – a problem for many organizations, especially in the advertising/marketing/public relations sector – by connecting our employers and clients with organized community efforts, attracting desirable executives in a systematic way.

Recent studies by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and 247wallst.com rank Milwaukee among the top five worst cities for African Americans holding corporate leadership positions. To address this problem, 80 business and community leaders from various sectors in Milwaukee have come together to develop and support a growing pool of diverse and talented African American leaders. The goal of the African American Leadership Alliance (AALM) is for Milwaukee to rank as the best city in the U.S. for African American executives by 2025!

In short, helping to increase D&I awareness, facilitating participation in community improvement initiatives, and partnering with organizations such as AALM present unique opportunities for PRSA members and our strategic communications colleagues to demonstrate a new level of value for our organizations.

We must seize these opportunities to lead as only we can, helping to form diverse multigenerational works teams that bolster creativity and innovation, and producing communications deliverables that help our organizations achieve revenue, reputation, corporate social responsibility, and D&I goals.

Besides, bringing diverse viewpoints and cultures to the table is a proven deterrent to organizational missteps, which often require communicators to shift into “crisis mode” at a moment’s notice.

The choice is ours – be proactive or reactive.

Debra A. Miller, Ed.D., APR, Fellow PRSA
President and Senior Counsel
Global Communication Strategists, LLC
Chapter Diversity & Inclusion Committee Chair