Communicating D&I Initiatives Publicly – Risky or Rewarding?

Acknowledging that we can all do better with our Diversity & Inclusion efforts is of paramount importance for every business. This sentiment has been shared over and over across our client roster and within our own agency walls. In fact, according to Deloitte Insights, more than two-thirds (69 percent) of executives rate diversity and inclusion a critical issue. The intentions are well-meaning and true. The efforts and programs toward more diverse and inclusive workplaces are all created to move the needle in the right direction.

The question we need to ask ourselves is, “is what we are doing for our D&I initiative something worth sharing publicly?” I was recently in a social media workshop with a client, brainstorming topics for content. One well-meaning participant suggested, “we should really talk about our D&I work.” My response was, “what makes your work different and groundbreaking from other companies? Do you have real results you can share?” The answers were, “not really anything, and not yet.”

Sometimes it’s difficult to take hard look inward at the realities, not the aspirations, of diversity within our businesses. In fact, a report by Bloomberg found that although a majority of organizations (71 percent) aspire, within three years, to have an “inclusive” culture, only 11 percent report that they currently have one. There is a very careful balance we must contemplate as communications professionals when considering whether to promote our D&I initiatives. We run the risk of coming off as disingenuous or simply “checking off the D&I box on our ‘to do’ list.”

Just as we carefully communicate our corporate social responsibility and philanthropic efforts, we need to also consider how we can genuinely position ourselves within the D&I space. And, maybe most importantly, not give ourselves undeserved credit in this important, and sensitive, area.

That’s not to say that we all shouldn’t work hard to accomplish more diverse and welcoming workplaces and businesses – it is to say that we all need to be careful about how much public praise we give ourselves, and share with others, about those efforts.

To learn about PR and Diversity, please visit

Sara Hood
Vice President, PR/Social Director


D&I: Creating a World That Embraces All Abilities

The term “diversity” is not some nebulous concept to me. Diversity has always been a big part of my life, and I’m proud to be part of a group that encourages awareness of this important issue in all aspects of life – from gender, to race, to abilities, and many more.

My blog will take more of a personal approach. As honored as I am to be involved in the Diversity and Inclusion Committee for PRSA Southeastern Wisconsin, my hope is that D&I Committees are eventually not needed – that diversity is just a part of the daily fabric of life in businesses, organizations, social groups, schools, etc.

We have a long way to go.

For this post, I’d like to focus on the differently-abled population. For as long as I can remember, I never understood why it was such a big deal when I would meet a person with special needs. We’re all just people right? We all have special needs and abilities. The first step to inclusion is removing that label of being different, or “challenged.”

Don’t get me wrong. I know that medically, having special needs can be a very big deal, and many people need extra care in order to survive & thrive. Families have to find a new normal to take care of their loved ones with special abilities. But when you REALLY get down to it, we’re all just people. Some of us are funny, some more serious, some athletic, artistic – each of us contributes to the rich tapestry of life.

Ever since college, I have volunteered with organizations that serve the special needs population, and I have learned more from these experiences than from any college course.

One of those lessons – don’t sweat the small stuff. We get so consumed by our daily problems, and wanting more. Sometimes we forget to just BE. This is a lesson I’ve learned from the special needs population. Sure, it’s human nature to vent and complain because life is hard at times. But if we lead lives that are based in patience, kindness, and acceptance, life’s challenges just might seem a little less daunting.

Those qualities of kindness and acceptance carry over to the workplace & professional organizations. It’s not a bold, new idea to say we need more people with special needs in the workplace. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports in 2017, 18.7% of persons with a disability were employed. In contrast, the employment-population ratio for those without a disability was 65.7%.

The disparity between those numbers is staggering.

In some cases, a person physically can’t work. But in many other cases, these gifted, differently-abled citizens don’t get a chance to be hired and share their diverse talents with the rest of the workforce. Many can’t afford or access transportation, and if they do find jobs, they are minimum wage positions, in subpar working environments.

I encourage anyone who has even a little bit ot free time to check out local organizations that promote inclusion – Best Buddies, Easter Seals, Special Olympics, The Eisenhower Center. They are always looking for volunteers to help with events and programming. I think you’ll fine you’ll get more out of it than the people you’re assisting.

And next time you see someone with a disability, I challenge you to see them for what they CAN do… I bet you’ll be surprised!

Steph Graham
PR & Content Manager



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 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

Notice of 2018 Annual Meeting

All members are hereby notified that the Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America will be:

Wednesday, December 12, 2018 at 12:00 pm  at:

Italian Community Center, 631 E Chicago St, Milwaukee, WI 53202 (free parking in back)

The following item of business will be brought before the members: The slate of officers, board members and committee chairs to lead the PRSA chapter in 2019:

President – Ryan Amundson

President-elect – Jeff Dardis

Immediate Past President – Patrick McSweeney

Treasurer – Christine Dunbeck

Secretary – Stephanie Graham

Membership Chair – Katharine Foley

Ethics Officer/Midwest District Liaison – Carolyn Schamberger

Director, Marketing – Nicole Koremenos

Director, Community Service – Katrina Schwarz

Director, PR Palooza – Allison Kucek



Diveristy & Inclusion – Debi Miller

Accreditation – Annie Gentil

Mentorship – Emily Bultman

Education/PRSSA – Heidi Fendos


Judges Needed

PRSA is currently recruiting judges for the Sierra Nevada Chapter awards. Sierra Nevada graciously volunteered their time earlier this year to judge our Paragon Awards, and now it is time to return the favor. Judging is a great way to see the great work that another chapter is doing, and also give back a bit to your PRSA chapter. Judging will be from September 18th (entries sent to judges) – October 2nd (entries due back to the chapter). Each volunteer judge will judge between two and four entries (depending on final number of entries and judges). Please sign-up for judging no later than September 1st.

If you are interested or have questions, please email Immediate Past President, Sara Rude at