Black History Month usually falls heavy by calling for a time of reflection, learning and contemplation. In 2021, Black History Month carries even more weight as it follows a year filled with thousands of protests, proclamations of action and a powerful movement to change. At Blast, we remain sincere about wanting to educate ourselves to do what we can to help. As a part of an industry that hasn’t done enough for diversity efforts, it’s a priority for us to recognize the importance of this month, the importance of the Black community and the importance of the change that needs to happen.
Diversity is Important
Not only is diversity and inclusion important to us as Blasters, it’s paramount to our industry and any industry that wants to succeed moving forward. Diversity in staff brings diversity of ideas, strategies and results. Furthermore, diversity can strengthen productivity and profitability. Here’s a few examples that show why embracing diversity is beneficial for the workplace.
- Expanding Outreach – This PR institute article explores how diversity within the public relations industry is a necessity.
- Delivering Through Diversity – A study done by McKinsey & Company highlighting how ethnic and even gender diversity contributes to higher profits within a company.
- Improved Productivity – This study by the Academy of Management shows how diversity can raise production levels within the workplace
Taking a look at the history of diversity in Public Relations and Communications leads to discovering Dr. Jesse J. Lewis, who founded Jesse J. Lewis and Associates in 1954, and Joseph V. Baker, who founded Joseph V. Baker and Associates in 1934. Both are among the first black-owned PR firms in the U.S. In addition, Barbara Harris, who worked at Joseph V. Baker, eventually became the first woman of color to handle PR for major companies. All three have been named pioneers of PR by the Museum of Public Relations. While these historic leaders have led the way for diversity within this industry, the persistent lack of minorities is a problem that we can’t ignore.
The reasoning behind this issue aligns with the reasoning behind many of the problems people of color face everyday: persistent systemic racism. Dr. Candance Parrish describes in a podcast episode discussing diversity in public relations how systemic racism “seeps into every aspect of our lives,” including being embedded in the education system. She comments that the curriculum within HBCU’s doesn’t meet adequate standards and has low funding for public relations and communications departments. This, paired with the statistic that black students are far less likely to graduate higher education, leads to a lower number of African Americans in the job pool for this field.
Knowing this information should inspire an even more intense desire to push for change. We know that increasing diversity within our own agency will benefit us, our clients, and the industry as a whole. Black History Month is a time to honor, reflect and discover ways that we can help the movement continue to grow. But pushing for diversity shouldn’t be a priority only during Black History Month. PR and Marketing Agencies should be looking for ways to reach out to diverse candidates year-round.
We want to educate and strengthen our team, so we are striving to create an environment that’s welcoming to all candidates. Please reach out to [email protected] if you’re interested in opportunities to work with us.