Diversity and Inclusion - Increasing Equity and Representation in the Workplace
Changes that companies are taking today to build a better workplace
By: Camille Perkins
Around the summer of 2020, companies began making it clear the ways they would ally with minority groups. This movement followed the mass protests demanding racial justice in response to the murder of George Floyd. Activists and company staff began calling out issues regarding representation and pay equity within organizations. Many companies wanted to avoid criticism during this sensitive time period; as a result, diversity, equity and inclusion efforts were improved. Diversity reports, diverse leadership and CEO diversity statements were among the efforts made to grow companies during this time, and many expanded these initiatives to show where they stood on systematic issues that minorities faced.
Diversity reports have been around for a while, but their popularity increased following the summer of 2020. Companies use these reports to be transparent about the actions they are taking to ensure they have a workplace that is diverse and inclusive of various groups of people. These reports are usually found on organization's websites, easily accessible for those interested in company's efforts. Target's diversity report is a great example of this, among the brand's other diversity efforts. Target’s annual report is on the corporate website under its "diversity, equity and inclusion" tab. The report has a series of charts and graphs that shows gender and ethnicity percentages and the roles they have at Target. It also displays the percentages of each ethnicity that are of managers, officers, board of directors, leadership and non-mangers. Overall, Target has a large focus on diversity and inclusivity as it seeks to build a company environment reflect the communities that it services. The diversity report is a clear step in this direction, allowing companies like Target to be clear about their efforts in maintaining diversity and inclusion.
Displaying diverse leadership is an additional measure that companies have taken to improve their spaces and satisfy all who are employed or want to be employed at their company. The first step to this is hiring diverse, skilled staff. Hiring diverse staff gives
companies different perspectives from people of all backgrounds, which is useful in creating new concepts and approaching controversial issues.
In 2021, a New York Times article called for better representation and inclusion in the workplace after criticism from employees of color. POC at The New York Times described their experiences as uncomfortable since the newspaper didn't initially do well with representation. Black and Latino employees were not in leadership positions, black employees left the company at a higher rate than others and employees scored the workplace low for inclusion and fairness. After a review of company actions, the newspaper committed to improving the workplace for minorities and creating opportunities for POC leadership and involvement. Since then, The New York Times has diversified its staff and displays the diverse team on its website. This team includes officers, editors, directors, writers and executives. PR Week also shares that diverse leadership can ensure company growth and is a step toward inclusivity.
CEO statements addressing diversity issues are growing popular on many organization websites. Many companies will include a letters or quotes from their CEO discussing steps the company is taking toward diversity and inclusion. AT&T is one of these companies. On the its website, CEO John Stankey and Senior Vice President Corey Anthony both issued statements regarding the company’s emphasis on the importance of a diverse and inclusive workplace. They talked about their commitment to hiring staff of all backgrounds and ensuring their voices are heard and considered. Other companies issue similar statements from CEO’s and executives that reinforce their diversity, equity and inclusion objectives.
Diversity and inclusion efforts are a growing trend in PR that companies are working on developing. Many people are beginning to look to companies to display plans for representation and inclusiveness, and in response, many establishments have adapted actions like the diversity reports, diverse staff and CEO diversity statements mentioned earlier. These initiatives, and others like them, allow companies to be transparent about the steps being taken to improve work environments. Many companies must now make it clear what actions are being taken to represent diversity and remain inclusive of staff and audience members.
About the Author
Camille Perkins is a current public relations student at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. Camille is currently gaining PR experience through various PR courses in preparation for internships and a career after her expected graduation of December 2022.