5 Questions to Ask Yourself About Diversity and Inclusion

By: Cedric F. Brown, APR
Jan. 1, 2020
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By now, you’ve probably seen, heard or read about the challenge the PR profession faces in becoming a more diverse workforce. After all, shouldn’t the organizations we’re building relationships on behalf of be reflective of today’s diverse American society?

The conversation is no longer just about the number of people in the room who come from diverse backgrounds.It’s also about making sure people of different races, ethnicities, genders and orientations feel empowered to contribute.

Still, if there’s one thing that’s missing from today’s D&I conversations, it’s the emphasis on authenticity.

At last year’s PRSA International Conference in San Diego, I co-presented a session with Aerial Ellis and Y’Anad Burrell titled “The Authenticity Code: Getting Real About Diversity & Inclusion.” 

The premise of our presentation was to engage attendees about what authenticity looks like from the employee, leadership and strategic perspectives. It also came with a quiz that scores authenticity to help improve workplace cultures.

Now, you might be thinking to yourself: “How can you really measure authenticity? Isn’t it different for everyone?” From our lens, we’re looking at authenticity as your ability to let people simply exist as themselves in the workplace in a way that maintains professionalism but that doesn’t hamper your freedom of expression.

If you’re starting the new year (and new decade) determined to improve your organization’s D&I efforts, then here are some questions to ask yourself as you think about the role authenticity can play:

1. Is the way I behave with my co-workers/supervisor(s) just about, or close to, the same way I behave with my friends outside work? 

For your organization to be authentic, you want to limit the habit of code-switching — alternating between two or more languages or ways of speaking in conversation.

2. Can I have an open conversation with my co-workers/supervisor(s) when their words or actions offend me? 

To foster a healthy working environment, it’s important that employees feel authentic enough to say what’s on their minds rather than let issues fester until they reach a breaking point.

3. Can I acknowledge my bias when it comes to hiring and promoting talent? 

The first step to solving a problem is recognizing that you have one. Be authentic enough to recognize any biases that may exist in our organizations, then take the next step to make sure that it doesn’t hinder you from objectively strengthening your organization.

4. Can I spot issues of diversity and inclusion within my organization? 

When you’re authentic, you may have a deeper understanding of the root of most workplace-related conflicts. You can distinguish when an issue is fueled by unmet expectations of job performance or if there’s just a challenge to appreciate culture differences.

5. Can I develop diversity and inclusion strategies that are aligned with my organization’s business objectives? 

Ultimately, you have to demonstrate why D&I is important beyond the sake of having representation. When you’re authentic with yourself and others, you’ll find it easier to make this correlation between diversity and business goals so that it’s a win-win situation for all parties involved.

These are only five of the nine questions that make up the Authenticity Code quiz. If you want to get a jump on making your organization more authentic, take our quiz to see how you measure up and then take the next steps in moving toward your authenticity goals. Find it at this link and let me know how you do!


photo credit: vadik swenson