In an age where woke culture is rife, highlighting diversity in PR is more important than ever. PR professionals need to have a comprehensive understanding of diversity as they communicate and interact with people on a regular basis. This makes it essential that they understand the nuances of different cultures and backgrounds.

According to Deirdre O’Donoghue, senior content marketing specialist at G2, “people value companies that value all.” With this being said, integrating diversity into your PR strategy will not only result in a more creative and innovative workforce, but it will also boost your relevance and brand awareness as well.

Now to answer the question: ‘How do I promote diversity in my business?’. Well, PR specialists can become well versed in the topic of divergence by: 

1. Increasing your awareness

A key part of problem-solving is understanding why you have the problem in the first place. Many South Africans believe that, due to the introduction of BBBEE, the environments we work in are equal. This does not mean an  inclusive work environment, as diversity spans far outside the parameters of race.

Being inclusive involves an understanding of an individual or group’s unique characteristics relating to gender equality, race, culture, religion, sexual orientation, age or religious beliefs. In the business environment, you encounter an array of people daily, which makes having an understanding of diversity and inclusion imperative. 

On these grounds, you will struggle to have a well-integrated work environment if you are oblivious to the issues surrounding diversification. According to Yvonne Joubert, in a sample of 72 employees, only 33% of those workers were female and 44.45% were white South Africans. 

A simple way to promote inclusion is by inviting everyone to have a seat at the table and committing to starting a dialogue that promotes open communication and inclusivity in the workplace. 

2. Keeping diversity in mind when hiring 

PR agencies must hire an array of employees that are representative of our rainbow nation, which in itself is extremely nuanced. Having a wide range of employees means that these different voices will be heard within the business environment and outside of it. 

According to Nysha King, offensive PR and marketing campaigns arise from a lack of diversity, because these homogenous departments lack the perspective of what may be offensive to people outside of their group.

A prime example of a PR disaster that happened at the hand of someone who lacked perspective and in turn offended a lot of people is the H&M ‘coolest monkey in the jungle’ fiasco. Here the retailer advertised an image of a black child wearing a hoodie that had ‘coolest monkey in the jungle’ printed on it. This caused a massive stir online and led to the brand’s reputation taking a hit. This could have easily been avoided if the brand had a diverse team that could oversee the campaign before it went out. 

Having a varied workforce results in
  • A wide array of perspectives
  • Increased brand awareness
  • Higher employee retention. People want to work for companies where they feel valued
  • Positive brand reputation
  • A more creative and innovative workforce. The multitude of cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives melds together for unique problem solving 

3. Identifying your biases

It is impossible to solve a problem if you are a part of it. This rings particularly true when it comes to the topics of diversity and bias. Everybody has their unconscious biases, and that is completely normal.

However, these biases only become detrimental when we don't try to overcome them — the failure to do so can negatively impact employee morale. When trying to become more inclusive, it is essential to take a look at your personal bias and those of your teammates to avoid perpetuating stereotypes and making anyone feel uncomfortable.

Businesses can make leeway in combating their biases by:
  • shedding light on their biases — this helps you to identify the problems you need to work on
  • taking accountability for these biases 
  • implementing peer monitoring
  • treating a complaints box — here, employees can express whether they’ve been treated unfairly and by who. 
Once you have identified your biases, the next step is to ensure that you can communicate effectively with others. This is where cross-cultural communication comes in. 

As a PR pro, you will most likely have to communicate with various brands . You can improve your cross-cultural communication skills by unpacking your knowledge on your values and educating yourself on cultures outside of your own.

An example of a brand that has done a fantastic job in integrating diversity into their PR campaigns is Rihanna’s makeup brand, Fenty Beauty. This brand started the trend of creating an extensive foundation range, including 50 different shades. This way a major move in terms of inclusivity in PR as the product range is more appealing to a diverse range of consumers. 
How does your company promote diversity in your workplace? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Want to know more about how to be inclusive in the workplace? Be sure to check out our article, Why diversity is a competitive advantage.
*Image courtesy of Vecteezy