This past year was a time of self-reflection for most, and PAN was no exception. As a community of 150 strong, we made a commitment to bringing diversity, equity and inclusion to the forefront of everything we do. Over the past several months we’ve been inspired by modern day civil rights leaders like Tarana Burke, Alicia Garza, and Bryan Stevenson who embody Martin Luther King Jr’s vision. We have worked to make substantial changes within our firm, including:
This commitment and the Black Lives Matter movement have encouraged us to stop and think differently about important historic milestones like Martin Luther King Day. Meaningful change cannot be made unless the entire organization is on board – from junior levels all the way up to executives.
We recognize that we still have a journey ahead of us and that dismantling biases and creating a truly equal workforce will take some time and continued commitment.
That’s why we’ve paused and asked our employees the question: What does MLK Day mean to you?
In our effort to listen, learn and constantly educate ourselves, we’ve also spoken to a few students of color at Elon University, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina Central University and Syracuse University, where our President & CEO guest lectured at this fall.
“Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a day to pause and remember how far we’ve come, and yet how far we still have to go. I hope you will stay with me on this DEI journey – both my own and PAN’s. We know that change takes a collective voice and collective action. Please let’s continue to commit ourselves to listening and learning.” – Phil Nardone, President & CEO
“MLK Day is a commemoration of a great man that symbolizes empathy, hope, tolerance and acceptance of others that are different from you. Actions speak louder than words, and although Dr. King was an eloquent speaker, his acts to fight for equality speak louder and ring as true today as they did back in the 60s. I will forever be grateful to Dr. King for being a beacon of hope, resiliency and equality. – Ashley DeLoach, Account Executive, Boston
“Overall MLK day to me is a day to celebrate supporting local black communities and the black experience. It is also a day to reflect on the teachings of an influential man and review the progress this country has made in valuing black lives. I also see this day as a reminder to stay vigilant in my own quest for true inclusion and equity among the marginalized in this country.” – Marissa L. Thomas, Student, Syracuse University
“This year more than ever as I reflect on the impact Martin Luther King had on racial justice and equality, I am inspired! He was a true leader, visionary and he loved unconditionally. If one person could have brought about historical positive reform in our world, think about what we could do if each and every one of us embraced his teachings and worked together to end racism and celebrate everyone. As modern day leaders at PAN, we carry his mission and teachings forward as we lead and execute on our DEI journey together.” – Elizabeth Famiglietti, Executive Vice President
Martin Luther King Day reminds me that I come from resilient, innovative, and extraordinary Black men and women. Many look at the historical and present day struggles of African Americans in America and feel powerless and depressed. While those feelings are necessary and significant, I feel empowered because my history reflects a group of tenacious and captivating individuals. MLK day is an annual celebration of my history and our exceptionalism. – Asha Abdul-Mujeeb, Student, North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University
“I’m sad. I’m mad. I’m bewildered by how people are treating other people. The pandemic, violence against Black and Brown Americans, attacks on LGBTQ+ lives and the systemic racism that leads to wrongful convictions is reason enough to bail. Still I know in my bones I must #ActUp. I lean into these words to help me stay the course. “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” MLK Jr.” – Michele Frost, Vice President of Integrated Marketing
“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
“MLK day represents honoring a true hero and historic figure of advancing equalities for people of all races and backgrounds and combatting racial injustices in this country. With the recent BLM movement and wrongful deaths of George Floyd and Brianna Taylor among so many others, this day has never felt so important in my lifetime. It’s an important reminder that we must do better and must hold those accountable who demonstrate racist or xenophobic behaviors. It’s 2021, it’s purely unacceptable.” – Mackenzie Linn, Account Executive, Boston
“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day goes beyond just remembering his accomplishments. Every year, this day serves as a reminder that my family could not have existed without Dr. King’s commitment to civil rights and the next generations of activists that his leadership inspired. Unfortunately, this year has proved that we have a long way to go in the battle of systemic racism, until his famous dream becomes a reality in this country. In the spirit of positivity and a fresh start, I’m hoping for a brighter 2021 with the changes ahead!” – Nicole Das, Senior Account Executive, New York
“Martin Luther King’s day is an important day of the year because inevitably, it produces the thoughts of what Mr. King accomplished for the progression of this country. Each time of year we can look back at how divided our country once was, and marvel at the improvements we all have made in such a short amount of time. The day also provides an annual reminder of what we’re doing as a country/family to continue the works of Mr. King and all the other appreciated activists. Ultimately, this day produces a feeling of happiness and motivation for the potential of this country, in which we are all responsible for.” -Brandon Bullock, Student, North Carolina Central University
“Martin Luther King Day serves as a chance for every American to look at themselves and assess if their definition of ‘equal’ is the same as their neighbors, and if it isn’t, what steps can be taken to fix that. The day reminds us that the time has never been more critical to stop and listen to the voices of the maligned, rather than act for them.” -Ray Waldron, Senior Account Executive, Boston
“MLK Jr. Day means a chance to reflect on how far we’ve come, and how far we have to go. It’s an opportunity to reassess and find new ways to become the change I want to see in the world.” – Nathalie Franco, Assistant Account Executive, Orlando.
“Being a student at an HBCU and being a black male student at this kind of University means everything to me. It means forming strong and positive relationships with your peers that turn into family. It means voicing your opinion on situations and ideas that were once uncomfortable to discuss. It means having the ability to connect with individuals on a social level who don’t look and sound like you. It means giving back to those lower income communities that are generally surrounded by HBCUs through acts of service. In sum this is all what MLK Day means to me and more importantly, this is what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. envisioned when he was at the forefront fighting for this change.” – Zane Dunlap, Student, North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University
“Every year we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in commemoration of one of America’s most influential civil rights leaders. His inspiring work led a generation of activists on the path forward, to end racial segregation and gain equal rights for people of color. This year, I hope that we can all use this time away from work to reflect on the last few years and recognize how much progress there is still to make in the fight for equal rights. Laws may have been changed and on paper we all may be ‘equal,’ but a light has been shone on just how unequal our lives and experiences truly are based on the color of our skin. I hope we each use MLK Jr. day as an opportunity to listen, learn and think critically about what we as individuals can do to put an end to inequality and systemic racism.” – Eva Barry-Murphy, Senior HR Generalist, Boston.
Let’s all take the time to reflect on the importance of the day and remember what Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream truly means for all society. Continue to look forward and make positive change a reality.
Learn more about our CEO’s commitment to making the PR industry and more diverse and inclusive place by listening to the podcast below.