By Christina Borst
In theory, our task was straightforward: to craft a campaign that raises awareness of the lack of diversity and inclusion in the communications field. In practice, as five students at Temple, we were entrusted with tackling a problem with systemic roots and that enforced the status quo.
With census projections showing that the United States will be considered a majority-minority country by 2045 and the failure of the communications and PR fields to reflect this trend, we knew that we were about to tackle some tough questions. On Temple University’s Bateman Case Study Competition team, we set out to move beyond the diversity conversation and toward profound, sustainable solutions for the good of the industry that we will soon inherit.
For us, the need for more diversity and inclusion in the field is not the problem for which it has been historically labeled; rather it is an opportunity for talented professionals of all backgrounds and experiences to be celebrated and be given a voice. This holds especially true for communicators who are tasked with successfully sharing the stories of others, ensuring purposeful messaging.
As the future of the public relations field, it is the responsibility of young people to understand this.
When issues do not appear to directly affect you, how much do you care? We sought to correct this line of thinking through our campaign with the basis of education, imploring all students to reflect and think about the adversity they have faced. When minority communities are excluded from the field, we are unfairly telling them how they should be advocated for rather than forging opportunities with them. Diversity and inclusion may improve innovation and business performance, but above all else, they are moral imperatives that the students of today must welcome.
Though our campaign, as mandated by the competition, is limited to one month, we have always known that its impact must span far more than this short duration. Diversity is not something that should be revered for just a day, week, or even a month; it should be a necessity every day of every year. Over the course of the last three weeks, we have connected with local and national audiences and most importantly, our peers. The public relations faculty at the Klein College of Media and Communication have learned about the resources needed to make every classroom a safe space to embrace diversity. Diverse Voices, a book profiling 40 diverse PR practitioners, has been made accessible in our library. Students have written personal action statements, dedicating themselves to make diversity and inclusion happen. Communications specialists across Philadelphia have helped us found a book club that will allow students to forge a network with diverse professionals. Our efforts have been guided by one goal: to create change that lasts.
Our campaign may be coming to a close, but for us, it is only the beginning.