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Our Commitment to Bringing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to the PR Industry

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Author: Elizabeth Famiglietti, Chief People & Culture Officer at PAN Communications, headshot
Elizabeth FamigliettiChief People and Culture Officer

I have always been proud of the culture at PAN. Our employees exemplify our core values in everything they do, and they take time each day to support one another.

We have been through an extremely challenging year. Despite all the hardship brought on by COVID-19, we have managed to stay positive and have shown true resilience as an organization. Because of this, it was not surprising to me at all that after the murder of George Floyd, our Executive and Leadership team stepped up and made a commitment to do better.

We immediately opened the dialogue to all of our employees, clients, partners and associations to discuss what we could do to move diversity, equity and inclusion to the forefront of our leadership discussions. After reaching out to other HR professionals as well as various DEI experts, I realized this will be a journey not a race and it must become part of the fabric of PAN.

Learn how this outreach resulted in the expansion of our agency’s student mentorship program to include two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

This is not an initiative! After a lot of research and discussion at the leadership level and within the marketing and PR community, I was excited to help architect our DEI plan.

In July 2020, we brought our Executive and Senior Leadership Team together for a virtual meeting to discuss our commitment to our DEI journey and the responsibilities we have to lead these efforts at PAN. We agreed that our ability to create change required the effort of not just a small team, or a few people, but the commitment from each of our leaders and each of our employees.

PAN has taken a two-pronged approach to our DEI efforts which includes both a strategic roadmap and a continued grassroots effort.

It Starts with Grassroots Efforts

In the summer of 2019, we established a team of employees who volunteered to work together to bring various educational opportunities and fun activities to our workforce.

This PAN Inclusion and Diversity committee (PANid) is now 30 employees strong and represents all levels of our organization, across all five of our offices. Together, these employees have put in place various programs to help engage and educate our workforce, as well as champion and celebrate diversity.

“Together, these employees have put in place various programs to help engage and educate our workforce, as well as champion and celebrate diversity.”

Some of these efforts include:

Anti-Racism Resource Guide

The committee created a guide of over 100 books, movies, podcasts, educational articles and more to help educate our staff on the struggles that BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and other marginalized groups have had to face, and how we can be effective allies.

PANid Discussion Group

These discussions are held a few times per month and are open to all employees at PAN. Our anti-racism resource guide has served as the jumping off point for these discussions which create a safe space for employees to talk about issues as they relate to race, ethnicity, sexual identity, gender norms, and more.

DEI Speaker Series

Our PANid committee also created a guest speaker series where we invite external speakers/experts to talk to staff about various DEI topics. Some topics we’ve tackled so far this year have been the correct use of pronouns and anti-Semitism.

Our Strategic Roadmap to a Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive Workforce

In addition to the formation of the PANid committee, together as a leadership team we identified 6 key areas of focus for our agency – our DEI pillars. We now have PAN leaders aligned with each pillar and employees from across the agency have joined one of the six teams. I am so excited to kick off these teams this month.

Pillar #1: Leadership Commitment & Responsibility

This team will focus on ways our Leadership Team can illustrate PAN’s commitment to our DEI journey. They will establish how leadership can listen, show action and demonstrate continuous improvement both internally and externally.

This team will also work with our clients to share our DEI goals and objectives and provide guidance on their journey. They will evaluate our clients and vendors to ensure we are supporting Black/POC-owned/led companies.

They will evaluate our new business outreach and activities to increase our efforts in supporting businesses that are owned/led by Black, POC, LGBTQ+ and other marginalized groups.

Listen to President & CEO Phil Nardone’s discussion with PRovoke in a recent podcast about DEI in the PR industry.

Pillar #2: Education, Training & Continuous Learning

This team will focus on evaluating and recommending a robust formal – and informal – DEI curriculum. They will set learning requirements for all managers and bring DEI programs and education to all employees in an effort to raise awareness and to foster an environment of open dialogue, storytelling and experience sharing.

Pillar #3: Open Communication & Engagement

This team will keep our progress and goals alive! They will keep us honest on this journey and outline a communications strategy for sharing our progress with internal and external audiences.

This will include a close partnership with PAN’s Marketing team to discuss how we highlight our key milestones via our key channels – our website, blog and social – as well as how we share these milestones with our core audiences: our clients, vendors, partners and employees.

Finally, this team will assist in driving participation and engagement in PANid programs and solicit feedback from staff to allow a continuous improvement cycle.

Pillar #4: Belonging, Retention & Recruitment

This team will develop action items to ensure our culture is not only welcoming but is truly inclusive; a place where everyone has an equal opportunity to build a successful career; a place where every employee feels comfortable and empowered.

They will help to evaluate and expand our recruitment practices for bringing more diversity into PAN and make recommendations for better retention strategies that focus on employee development and engagement.

Pillar #5: Policies & Practices

This team will review all of PAN’s HR, Business and Operational Policies and Procedures to ensure equity, inclusivity, and equal opportunity and will make recommendations for improvement.

Pillar #6: Data, Goals & Reporting

This team’s charter is to work across all our DEI teams to capture the approved and actionable goals, establish a tracking system for the short and long-term, and prepare a data dashboard to share internally and externally.

Our Commitment to the PR Industry

Change doesn’t happen overnight, and we recognize that we have a long way to go on our DEI journey. However, I feel that our strategy and approach is one that will create long-lasting and continued change.

“Change doesn’t happen overnight, and we recognize that we have a long way to go on our DEI journey. However, I feel that our strategy and approach is one that will create long-lasting and continued change.”

DEI is not just a box you check and forget. It is an ongoing commitment to creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace. We as an agency are committed to continually learning and evolving as an organization. We must be change agents not only inside the walls of PAN but for the entire external communications industry. We are proud to join the Diversity Action Alliance organization in their commitment to make an impact on the Public Relations and Communications Industry. We pledge our commitment as individuals and as an agency.

I am fortunate to have been given the responsibility to craft PAN’s DEI plan and help bring our employees and leaders together. I know we can make a difference.

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