I had the privilege of attending PRSA Orlando’s recent event, “NOT A GAME: The Role & Impact of PR in Inclusion & Diversity.” At PAN Communications we’re dedicated to building our company culture, and a key piece of that is hiring and mentoring a diverse employee base, and valuing different skill sets, backgrounds, and opinions. PAN fosters an environment of inclusivity through its recruitment efforts and mentorship programs. We’ve also recently kicked off a new committee to help drive D&I initiatives even further within our agency, so naturally we jumped at the opportunity to sponsor and attend this event.
A great turnout of local PR and marketing professionals came to hear Daryl Holt, VP and head of operations at EA Sports, share his personal experiences, philosophies and initiatives around Inclusion & Diversity in the workplace. Here’s what I found most interesting from his speech.
Holt shared with us that he believes the industry has it backwards. It shouldn’t be Diversity & Inclusion, but Inclusion & Diversity, since diversity only begins to exist in the workplace when a culture and environment of inclusion has been instilled. He discussed how it’s not about hiring someone simply because they have a diverse background, but expanding your company and brand reach even further, to even more people, to find talent that is naturally more diverse.
Culture also plays a large role in this, as many companies know. Holt talked about how he’s teaching and training his own teams to break old habits and welcome new insights and mindsets into the creative space. This is where inclusion starts. Once you can master this culture with your team, diversity will naturally follow as a result.
As industry professionals we know and understand that being inclusive and diverse is a key need for being more innovative and serving the industries we’re in better. However, there’s a clear gap between talking the talk on Inclusion & Diversity and walking the walk. Holt’s answer to this at EA Sports revolves around learning our ABCs – Awareness, Behavior and Consistency.
The awareness aspect means senior leadership all the way down to entry–level employees and everyone in between must stop putting on blinders to issues around Inclusion & Diversity at work. They must make themselves aware of the problems and challenges occurring and take it a step further, speaking up to both educate others and push for change.
Once you become aware of the problems around Inclusion & Diversity in your workplace, you must actively work to start changing behaviors. Holt gave a great example during his speech. At a company-wide meeting, a female executive was asked a question. A male colleague stepped in and answered for her. No one said anything, the moment passed, and the Q&A moved on. A short time later this same female executive was directly asked another question and the same male colleague jumped in to answer over her. Holt stopped him, stating he wanted to hear the female executive’s response since the question was directed at her. The female executive wasn’t interrupted or answered over again for the rest of the meeting. By speaking up and using his awareness of a situation, Holt was able to change a behavior.
As you push to create awareness and change behaviors within your organization, you have to be sure you remain consistent. Holt made the point that it’s not enough to correct someone one time when they speak over another team member. That has to be done consistently, every time you see something that goes against Inclusion & Diversity. Action has to be consistent or inclusion starts to break down and diversity along with it.
Holt’s message was clear – as PR professionals, as the ones who build and support a brand’s image from the inside out, we have a responsibility to lead by example. To instill Inclusion & Diversity in our own agencies, departments, and teams. We can empower ourselves and our colleagues to listen more, say yes and accept new paths to creativity and innovation. We have the power to choose to be inclusive, and by making that choice, we invite diversity.