Rethinking DE&I initiatives with a focus on justice and comms

We spoke with Amber Micala Arnold of MikeWorldWide about how comms can position DE&I practices to current and prospective employees.

We spoke with Amber Arnold of MWW about the importance of justice in diversity initiatives and more

Every organization should have a defined set of benchmarks, guidelines and practices that clearly lay out their efforts around diversity, equity and inclusion. A modern, relevant organization fosters a work environment where all employees are able to be seen and heard while becoming their best selves. And in these matters, actions speak much louder than words.

We caught up with Amber Micala Arnold, group vice president, DEIJ and corporate reputation at MikeWorldWide (MWW) about some of the agency’s increased emphasis on justice within its diversity initiatives and a new initiative that aims to create — and keep — a diverse pipeline of prospective talent thriving in the communications industry.

In DEIJ, the ‘J’ stands for justice

Unlike most other organizations, MWW doesn’t solely focus on diversity, equity and inclusion — the –agency also factors justice initiatives into the mix. This is reflected in the organization’s recent rebranding of its DEIJ offerings to MWW Culture Connect. The rebrand places a special emphasis on justice because a major part of MWW’s work centers on helping other organizations communicate the equitable distribution of opportunities. These opportunities are further supported by the agency’s dedicated LGBTQ+ marketing practice along with a team of community-specific experts whose ideas, skills, backgrounds, identities and perspectives organically facilitate the creation of communications strategies that are culturally relevant.

“A lot of the work you do in DEI can focus on programmatic issues and quick fixes,” Arnold said. “We’re looking for companies to step up on a societal level. It became more important in the overall dialogue of the movement, so we felt we needed to focus on justice.”

Arnold explained how organizations can weave this strategy into their own communications plans.

“First, take an audit of what your company is currently doing in both internal and external communications,” she said. “As far as internal comms goes, it’s important for companies to look at their current policies in place and the organization’s values and to connect them to how they want to be seen. When you’re communicating with employees, it’s important to have a connection between the company’s overall mission and the messaging.”

Maintaining a diverse pipeline

If an organization hopes to keep growing, it should have a diverse, robust pipeline of prospective employees. But in a world in which prospective employees are more demanding than ever in desiring a diverse workplace that reflects their values, organizations need to build a pipeline with this in mind.

In response to this trend, MWW partnered with PRSA  Foundation to establish the 2022-2023 HBCU & HSI Public Relations Tour, which aims to engage with students of color that wish to pursue a career in public relations and communications. The main goal of the tour is to expose these students to internships, scholarships and career opportunities, all while building a diverse pipeline in the communications world.

“The PR industry has been working diligently and urgently to close the equity gap and it’s important that we provide more education and access opportunities for professionals and students of color,” Arnold said.

“We found that many students of color were not applying to the PR scholarships, internships, and entry-level roles that were available. So we created this initiative to go directly to the institutions that serve them in order to show them where they are and how to get them. When building a communications strategy around efforts to attract diverse talent to your company or industry, it’s about messaging, positioning, and exposure.”

Arnold went on to explain some younger people of color might not see themselves reflected in the leadership profiles on a company website and explained how an employee storytelling campaign can help.

Each company needs to really think about what picture they’re trying to project out into the world, not just for people of color, but for any traditionally marginalized group,” she said. “[People] want to be able to see people who look like them or reflect their interests. One of the best ways to do this is through an employee storytelling campaign. We encourage companies to elevate the diverse voices within their workforce. Take the opportunity to amplify them.”

For more information on MWW’s pro-bono PR program for small diverse-owned businesses and the 2022-23 HBCU & HSI Public Relations Tour, click the aforementioned links.

Sean Devlin is an editor at Ragan Communications. In his spare time he enjoys Philly sports, a good pint and ’90s trivia night. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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