According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people of color make up less than 30% of what are defined as “public relations specialists.” While numerous organizations claim to prioritize diversity, their leadership board, spokespeople and campaigns do not always reflect the diverse society we live in, resulting in an unfortunate and unacceptable lack of representation.
Diversity, representation and culture are particularly important to me as a first-generation Nigerian American. After noticing the evident need for increasing diversity and representation in the communications industry, I was curious to find more professionals that shared a similar cultural background. Unable to find online communities that catered to Nigerians in PR or in many other industries, in September 2020 I took it upon myself to create Naija Comm, the first-ever online community that celebrates, connects and uplifts Nigerian creatives and professionals specifically.
While it is not without its challenges, in continuing to build the community alongside the responsibilities of my PR internship at AMC Networks I’ve received overwhelming support inside and outside the Nigerian community and encourage others to consider creating their own communities to network with and support PR colleagues.
All aspiring & current PR professionals should focus on ensuring diverse representation by researching and implementing effective ways to make that happen. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to fully represent clients from various cultural backgrounds if you are unfamiliar with their culture and their stories. One way to help effect change is to follow and engage with community organizations such as ColorComm, T. Howard Foundation, Mimconnect and Industry Conversation, that present free webinars, panels and events through which diverse professionals discuss their experiences and the biggest challenges they’ve encountered as persons of color in the workplace. PRSA and PRSSA also provide important D&I resources such as PRSSA’s Diversity Toolkit, PRSA’s Diverse Dialogue series of conversations and its Advancing Your Communication Strategy in DE&I certificate program. I also recommend attending events like CultureCon, a conference curated for and by up-and-coming talent in the marketing, communications, media and tech industries.
Multiple other resources exist to help improve the diversity of your organization. For example, there is a wide variety of DE&I consulting firms that can help you to reassess and revamp strategies and hiring processes. Programs such as MAIP also focus on DE&I priorities. These types of partnerships are crucial to developing more opportunities for companies to realize a truly diverse workforce.
There are of course multiple PR agencies and organizations that have made, and continue to make, advancements in creating truly diverse work environments. But everyone in the communications profession needs to prioritize DE&I in all of its aspects and forms, because collectively we can’t make true progress without it.
Eno Oduok, the founder and CEO of Naija Comm, was the 2020-2021 Secretary of PRSSA’s Executive Committee at the University of Houston. Connect with her on LinkedIn.