Students Can Advance Diversity and Inclusion in Public Relations

October 2020
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College students across the country took part in protests this summer against racial injustice in the aftermath of the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Elijah McClain and others.

Students were quick to propagate resources and information for others to become educated about Black history, Black experiences, and the need to continually strive for racial justice. They shared links to petitions and donations; advice for safe protest practices; templates for emailing authorities; literature and films; countless graphics explaining concepts such as white privilege and micro-aggressions; and lists of Black-owned restaurants and businesses in need of support.

Since May 25, the day George Floyd was killed in police custody, there has been a noticeable awakening among students regarding racial inequality.

But what students may not know is that the steps they’ve taken have led them to a path of practicing diversity and inclusion. Now is the time to move forward on diversity, equity and inclusion. Every student who became part of the conversation has the potential to work on diversity and inclusion initiatives. Here are some ways to start:

Talk to your professors.

Even though many classes are now virtual, professors are still talking to their students every week, and are usually willing to help. Ask them to further emphasize diversity and inclusion in the curriculum. For future PR professionals, education on how to navigate a divided world should now be required.

Investigate your career choices.

Enhancing your future career starts with expanding your current network. Visit your university’s career center and seek out more diverse employers and opportunities. Don’t hesitate to share those opportunities with students who need them.

When attending agency tours (either virtual or in-person), ask the CEO or employee what they are working on in terms of diversity and inclusion, and how you can help them with their initiatives. If you are currently working at an internship or company, take the next step and encourage your supervisor or boss to hold regular staff discussions, share resources, and invite representatives from other organizations to speak about diversity and inclusion.

Build community through celebration and support.

As a diversity and inclusion advocate, being friendly and welcoming can open the door to building new relationships. Be personable, yet authentic, to everyone you meet. You never know where a conversation might take you, especially those of your fellow BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) peers, and acknowledge how differences add value to teams. One voice is someone’s power, and one team has several voices that must harmonize to become a valuable asset to an organization.

Finally, support your diversity and inclusion director or leader, and remember that their role can be stressful. They’re happy to teach you lessons they’ve learned, but they need your ideas and enthusiasm to help them carry out successful initiatives.

With the right tools and education, students have the potential to continuously work toward diversity, equity and inclusion. Their voices and energy are needed to achieve sustainable change.

Return to Current Issue Career Development | October 2020
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