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Good Trouble: Effecting Change and Diversifying the Profession

diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance verna myers

Look around and inward. At your next meeting, virtual or in-person, take a look around and don’t just observe who’s in attendance. Reflect on who’s missing. How can you expand your networks to include more diversity? How can you make the recruiting and retaining process more effective and inclusive? 

“We were quiet for so long. We had forgotten how to speak.” - Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune, panel facilitator.

Minnesota PRSA hosted its annual Diversity and Inclusion forum virtually this year. Kyndell Harkness facilitated the virtual forum of insightful panelists, including Miquel Purvis McMoore, Sharon Smith-Akinsanya and Angel Uddin. The panelists led open conversations to help attendees better understand how reflection can accelerate meaningful diversity, equity and inclusion areas of impact.

A few key takeaways:

Be Intentional

  • Expand your network, hire differently and support connectivity. You can go your entire career and have a set of friends and connections that only look like you. Statistically, companies tend to hire based on referrals. You hire people that you’re comfortable with; you hire people that look like you and that are like you. Diversity is missing. Push yourself to make authentic, intentional relationships with people outside of your typical network. Change your hiring systems to be less biased. If top-talent can’t find connections and networks within 18-months, they tend to leave. So, make those connections!
  • You can’t just look for diversity and talent when you need something. It takes mutual trust and respect to recruit and retain employees with diverse backgrounds and exceptional skills. It needs to be part of your organization’s authentic goals. Build your brand in communities, and network before you have an opening. Be intentional.
  • Be unconventional. Don’t just look at the career fairs and college recruiters. Find inclusive, creative ways to broaden narrow networks and touch-points. Make marketing more inclusive and authentic, so you’re sure to reach a deeper pool of talent.
  • Allow people to be their most authentic selves. “We recruit for diversity. But we hire for assimilation.” Once you force someone (whether intentionally or unintentionally) to assimilate to the environment, you lose all diversity. You lose unique perspectives. Start with acknowledging that this happens. Begin to nurture these unique perspectives. Allow people to be honest and open about their needs and ideas. We miss out on diverse perspectives when we omit authentic voices.

Reflection is key 

The pandemic has forced us to pause. When George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis, the United States and other parts of the world took more than 8 minutes and 46 seconds of horror to understand what happened. Reflection on an individual and organizational level is paramount to the process of societal and internal change.

  • Ask yourself. Ask yourself why you’re uncomfortable reaching out to someone who doesn’t look like you or act like you? Ask yourself why there are no POC at top leadership positions. Unpack it all. 
  • Advocate. Reflect on your privilege and responsibility. If you have an opportunity to advocate, do it. How are peers talked about in a room when they’re not there? Are other voices being silenced? Are we really thinking of everyone? How can I better support my peers of color? 
  • Acknowledge and recognize areas of weakness. Who’s missing from the meeting? Why are they missing? How many POC are we retaining in comparison to non-POC?
  • You deserve to be in a space where you’re recognized. Do you have access to opportunities to grow, evolve and flourish?

Together we can spark change. “Diversity is looking at the numbers; inclusion is making the numbers matter Angel Uddin 

Published on: November 2, 2020