Thursday, April 20, 2006

Diversity and difference

This month's PRecedent (the newsletter for UGA's PRSSA chapter) contains a really interesting article on diversity in public relations-- or maybe I should say really infuriating.

The article is by PR/Sociology major Geneva Greene, whom I do not know, and it makes the point that diversity should include more than just race but gender, sexual orientation, and so on. Even with a broad definition, the PR industry is not very diverse. The story goes on to cite various industry commissions and committees that have been set up to address this issue.

What infuriated me were the insights provided by a couple of recent Grady grads, both African-American. According to Ms. Greene, one of them was advised to use her middle name "because it was less ethnic," and the other felt he must cut off his braids in order to "conform to the mainstream professional image." She makes the point that even though minority employees are valued for the insights and skills they can bring, "distinctions" in name and appearance "are not welcome."

PR will never be diverse as long as young, talented people feel unwelcome to be different.

I wonder who those people were working with that they felt like they had to change in order to fit in better? Because I feel like many places would be welcome to individuality and diversity. It is infuriating if that is true, but at the same time I think that it is up to individuals to push the envelope on what is accepted as "normal" in PR. Don't we want to think outside of the box?
Lia, I wondered about that, too. It could just be that the students are nervous about being different. But I sure hate to blame them for the way our culture is. When someone's economic future and career are on the line, they probably aren't going to feel like taking a lot of chances.

Hopefully they'll be able to open up a few eyes in their new jobs, but as young professionals they have a lot on their plates already without being responsible for changing people's attitudes!

I think you are saying they should pick a place to work where they feel comfortable, and I do think that's good advice.
Hey Dr. R, did you know you've been listed???

=) Hope summer's going well so far
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"More important than the curriculum is the question of the methods of teaching and the spirit in which the teaching is given" --Bertrand Russell

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