By Lia Hyman
When I first interviewed for the position of Diversity Director, all I really knew about it was that I was passionate about it. There was no previous director to reach out to, but based on the description and responsibilities of the role, I knew it was a position that had to be filled with a real sense of commitment. Little did I know that only a month later, the country would erupt in protests nationwide after the death of George Floyd. This only made me more sure that it was more important than ever to have a Diversity Director on our executive board.
Since I accepted the position, I have started reading and watching as many articles, books, and documentaries that I can. Connecting with professionals in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) field has been a big focus of mine, so I have initiated conversations with executives who can tell me about what they do on a daily basis, giving me inspiration for actions I can take as well. These conversations have helped me brainstorm for the Diversity Panel that PRSSA will be holding in the Spring, an event with a panel of qualified professionals to answer questions about diversity and ethics, followed by a Q&A from the audience. After much contemplation, I concluded that this event would be most beneficial if our panelists answer questions about Ethical Company Procedures vs Individual Expression in the workplace. In the coming months, I hope to solidify our professional lineup and questions for the event.
One of my main goals as Diversity Director is to give members opportunities to hear from a wide range of people that hold different perspectives on issues. In a world that has become so divided, I hope to invite people outside of their comfort zones and listen. This includes promoting events that discuss heritages, religions, disability awareness, and more on our social media accounts. By making members aware of these opportunities for growth, I hope to inspire a more inclusive atmosphere within our own chapter of PRSSA. This leads me to another one of my goals, which is to reach out to other student organizations on campus and collaborate with them so their members can also take advantage of our PRSSA meetings. By making these connections, I hope our chapter can not only grow in size, but grow in diversity.
As a committee member of the PRoud Council, I also have been lucky enough to learn a lot about DE&I from my fellow committee members. The PRoud Council seeks to “actively facilitate diversity and inclusion initiatives on a local and international level on behalf of PRSSA by acting as a resource for Chapters and individual members”. Our committee members come from all different backgrounds and languages, and it has been an honor to engage with such hardworking students, committed to making Public Relations a more inclusive field. Some of my responsibilities for the Council include developing 3 DE&I activities for PRSSA Chapters to engage in, assisting in creating three changes in terms of accessibility, and assisting in implementing a workshop for DE&I leaders and Chapter general body members.
I look forward to our upcoming viewing of “The Social Dilemma” where we will discuss the ethics of addictive and manipulative social media; controversial topics like these help engage our brain and prepare us for a career in PR! Open discussion around ethical problems in PR is another goal of mine. As Diversity Director, I know it is important to be genuine and well-researched on crucial issues, but the truth is that I will make mistakes! This is why I am very open to feedback and hearing from our members, as well as other UD students, on how I can do better. I am excited to continue my work in making our chapter welcoming to all!