January 6, 2021
Fast Five with Mike Morrison: A Media Deluge, New Ways of Working, and “Amazing Gestures of Support”
Mike Morrison, Director of Media Relations for Massachusetts General Hospital, looks back on 2020 and managing through a pandemic.
When did you know that MGH was facing a public health crisis?
As of late December 2019, leaders from our Center for Disaster Medicine had been closely monitoring news from abroad, as well as updates from domestic and international agencies. The hospital officially launched its Incident Command System at the end of January and ramped up the frequency of its meetings as the pandemic progressed.
How has this crisis changed the way you work?
Within the management structure, the Office of News and Public Affairs plays a key role in communicating crucial information. The big challenge for our department has been moving from working very much “in person” to working remotely. We have a team of 13 – 14 people who are very much used to working closely and collaboratively, so working remotely created some challenges at first.
Also, with the volume of media requests, we’ve had to make sure that the same experts are not being approached by different staff from the same media outlet through different folks on our team. To that end, our department designated a kind of “air traffic controller” who is copied on relevant media requests, so she can provide a bird’s-eye-view of the situation.
Our day-to-day staffing plan includes two members of our team in the office on a rotating basis to cover the phones and escort media, as needed, on campus. And as another change, since most media don’t want to come on campus, we had to quickly shift to Zoom interviews, which have to be coordinated.
Have you had any special challenges?
Especially during the height of the surge, we’ve been deluged with incoming media requests. We’ve needed to balance these with proactive communications around critical public health messages. We had nearly 1100 media placements between early March until the end of May.
Our entire team has been just incredible. During the height of the initial spring surge, our colleagues went above and beyond to keep up with the hospital’s incredible communications needs. Every media request represented a huge opportunity to get important information to the public.
We’ve also wanted to share stories about the amazing gestures of support from the Boston community. We’ve had offers of free parking for our staff and some very smart people with 3-D printers offering to create PPE. Also, people would just come by the hospital with donations of food, hand lotion, PPE, and other items. We’ve responded on social media and on our website, and we continue to work hard to acknowledge and help coordinate all that support and goodwill.
Were there any resources that particularly helped?
While we always have worked closely with other departments, the hospital community has really pulled together. Our colleagues in Marketing have played a key role in helping to generate social media content, as well as a consistent look and feel for Covid-19 communications. Communicators in other departments, such as the Mass General Research Institute, have also volunteered to take on various writing and other projects to help in the effort. It’s really been “all-hands-on-deck,” and we’re fortunate to work in a place with that kind of culture.
Has your focus changed over the year?
At this point, as we gear up for what may be a second surge, we’re really keeping with the practices we began in the spring—but are getting better at it. Now, though, people want to talk about the vaccine, and we’re getting experts and materials ready to provide information.
Also, we are working hard to get images and video to show staff in action and help with communication—and we’ve already captured thousands of images. And for this phase, we’re focusing even more on those photos and videos, both for public communication and also as a chronicle for MGH history.
January 6, 2021
Fast Five with Leah Lesser: Driving Public Information, Communicating the Human Experience, and Staying Focused in a Critical Role
Leah Lesser, Marketing Communications Manager at Emerson Hospital in Concord, describes the focus of community hospital public relations and communications during COVID-19. “It’s been an intense year.”
When did COVID-19 come “front and center” at Emerson Hospital?
In early January, we began hearing the terms Coronavirus and COVID-19. On January 27, we issued our first public message about the virus, which was an infographic about symptoms and prevention. We didn’t know then that the virus would become a harrowing public health emergency.
Looking back, it amazes me how much we have learned and has reinforced how essential communication is in a pandemic. It has also underscored for me as a communicator the impact of sharing the human experience – not just metrics and data and symptoms and protocols – but what people are actually experiencing in real life.
What else did you start doing?
When we shared the infographic, we also put signage up throughout the hospital, asking people to self-identify if they were sick and had traveled from China or Europe. The first week of March, our Emergency Department treated the third patient in the state who was positive. Other patients followed quickly from there. Communication has been non-stop since.
Who do you focus on and how have you been communicating?
Our primary audiences for COVID-19 communications have been:
- Media, including Boston and local media (25+ weekly newspapers)
- Donors and friends of Emerson
We use various digital, social, e-mail, podcasts, videos, and other communications channels to reach these core audiences. We work hard to create content that is compelling and valuable for our community. One example is an article written with an allergist: Covid or Allergies? How to Tell. This article went viral on social with nearly two million page views. Another article we produced this summer after some colleagues became dog owners is: Pandemic Puppies: Health Tips for Their Humans.
In the spring, we worked to garner messages of support from celebrities, including Chris Evans and Steve Carell. These messages boosted staff morale and helped the public know how hard our staff worked to care for patients.
Proactive media relations resulted in more than 100 feature stories in the first six months of the pandemic. In a typical six-month period, Emerson receives approximately 20 feature stories.
Looking ahead, where are you focused?
Right now, we are focused on communications about the vaccines. We are working on TV features about our Surgical Weight Loss program and other proactive media opportunities. Looking further ahead, we are preparing to launch new marketing campaigns to promote priority service lines while staying focused on communications about the pandemic.
How has the year impacted you as a communicator?
I have always been amazed by our front-line staff, including our nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, social workers, and others who care for patients. This year I was awed by their heroism.
Also, going through a pandemic as a health care communicator has made me appreciate the benefits of working with a nimble marketing team to understand the human experience and get information out quickly. And due in large part to the pandemic, people all over the hospital and the community have recognized the value of communications. Our team is busier now than ever.
It has been an intensely non-stop year, yet a year that makes me very proud of our hospital and grateful to be part of it. We are ready for 2021!
January 4, 2021
Fast Five with Ellen Berlin: Supporting Key Audiences, Staying Focused, and Communicating Beyond Covid-19
Ellen Berlin, Director of Media Relations for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, discussed the challenges of communicating for a specialty hospital during 2020.
How was Dana-Farber impacted by the pandemic?
Most of our work at Dana-Farber involves providing treatment for cancer on an outpatient basis. Patients desperately want treatment, but particularly early in the pandemic, some were afraid to come in since they were already dealing with a compromised immune system. And early in 2020, there was a lot we didn’t know.
Also, as of last March, many employees needed to work off site, which was a new way of working, and they needed information and support. And Dana-Farber also had to keep research work going despite the restrictions.
How has this crisis changed the way you work in media relations?
We have a small media relations department—eight people—and early on it was hard because we were managing with many unknowns, and we were scared. But we adapted and have stayed focused on two important areas: providing patient information and managing the reputation of the institute.
Initially, it felt like crisis communication, and it went on for weeks. We responded to inquiries, such as: how were we continuing to treat patients and how were we keeping the hospital safe? And we communicated about changes in fundraising events from in-person to virtual.
Have you had any special challenges?
From a media-relations perspective, our biggest challenge has been getting attention on cancer treatment and research in the midst of the pandemic. We continue to push out a lot of information, but we know it needs to be particularly relevant to get media coverage. Fortunately, we have been very adept at pitching stories that reporters are interested in. We use a wide variety of media—social, mainstream, and trade publications—and we communicate through our website and blogs and videos.
Also, a big challenge has been internal communication, and while we have a separate team working on that, the media staff contributes to it. For most employees, this has been their first experience working remotely.
In addition, the timeframe to return to work has kept changing; first we were coming back in June, then September, and now in June of 2021. The media team has been fortunate because we were already working remotely one day a week, so it was not totally new for us.
What kind of programs were put in place internally?
Internally we support colleagues who produce bi-weekly Zoom forums for thousands of staff members. They use them to answer employee questions and share information about patient care, administrative issues, and well-being tools. Also, we’ve contributed content for the intranet. Now, focus has turned to the vaccines and the process for how they will be rolled out for staff and then patients. It’s very complex.
We also now have a manager’s forum and an “all-staff” email three times a week. The email covers developments related to Covid-19, summary information from the bi-weekly forum, and other items.
What are your thoughts as you look back on the year?
When I look back, I think OMG; it’s a miracle that despite what we have lived through, we’ve all been able to continue to do our jobs and contribute to this important work of cancer care. It’s such a testament to the resilience and adaptability of the people here.
Our colleagues at Boston Children’s Hospital and Brigham and Women’s where patients receive inpatient care also were there with support, and we are so grateful to them. We have all stayed focused and have pulled together—but It’s been quite a year!
October 15, 2020
He simultaneously holds leadership titles at two signature US brands. For Philadelphia native Rashaad Lambert, that is a metaphor of his life’s calling: building bridges and creating connections to open higher doors for people of color. When he eschewed the anachronistic term “minority,” his advocacy led Forbes to agree, recently announcing that this word would be banished in reference to race. In preparation for PRSA Boston’s Diversity Zoom Conversation on Oct. 19, Rashaad spoke with longtime board director Loring Barnes about the need in the current momentum for building diversity across corporations, higher ed and entrepreneurs, the Boston roots for his popular For(bes) The Culture online business resource community and his view that all Philly cheesesteaks are not created equal.
Q: We’re talking about the coming of age for diversity in America and globalism. Is there something that communicators or C-suite executives need to understand about applying practices of inclusion when applied to communities identified by race versus LGBTQ?
A: One of the reasons I pushed to raise the inappropriateness of the disparaging word “minority” is that LGBTQ was being postured as a minority population, when it’s not. Trying to compare or equate these struggles did a disservice to all. Diversity does include everybody, or as the Broadway song says, our “coat of many colors.” But for authors of press releases or website content: trying to hijack or latch onto a movement of oppressed people is unfair if you try to lump them as one. We don’t know if someone identifies as LGBTQ, but you can’t strip my ethnic identity from my skin. This pejorative visual makes for a vastly different employee or customer experience and organizations that aim to be thoughtful about their DE&I intent need to acknowledge these distinctions when developing their messaging as a code of conduct.
Q: In your role as content curator and leader of For(bes) The Culture’s online community of 21,000 business influencers and emerging entrepreneurs of color, you formally announced that the word “minority” will no long be assigned to racial topics by this important media outlet. Public relations professionals help organizations to align actions to words, and words to actions. How do you look for this action to change more than language?
A: I have been passionate about ending use of this term for as long as I can remember, and it underscores how words truly matter in our society. This term was absorbed and mainstreamed without question. I don’t want Forbes using inaccurate statements. I am worried about my community. One person spreading false narrative has a snowball effect on the rest of the world. Convincing one group that they have less standing than another group unequally elevates one community while denigrating and devaluing the other. It also encourages harmful judgements and behaviors. I applaud Forbes for leading this change. Hopefully it will bleed into the US educational system, entertainment, media as it has with the LA Times, and employers of all stripes. It’s a cancer in our society that has become a tool of white supremacy.
Q: You advocate that understanding an organization’s DE&I practices serves as a barometer for its growth and revenue because values matter. Can you elaborate on points of confusion that communicators can help to resolve when sharing this aspect of a brand’s story?
A: We need change across the board. Turn on the news. The violence against blacks and LGBTQ is real, demanding that leaders take bold and meaningful actions to end it. When a company or association states that they are committed to achieving diversity in hires, validating this requires that we can discern between the quality and quantity of those positions. These jobs should not be subordinate, such as warehouse jobs, but rather are true positions of power where talented, qualified people can steward influence while contributing to organizational goals and societal benefit. Even boardrooms are unclear about how “equity” compares to “equality.” They aren’t interchangeable terms. Equality is opinion-based, whereby people are snap-judged, often on their basis of racial cues, gender identity, accent or education. Equity by contrast signifies the action of offering a seat at the decision table, where one has true influence, their ideas considered and valued, and they can open the door to this room for others who haven’t had this opportunity.
Q: Can you share trigger questions for vetting the diversity philosophy of a person or a business, particularly as would inform professional communicators about how to advise organizations to align their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts?
A: My internal screening questions may be different in detail but in general I run a three-point check. I look for evidence of effort. Are the representatives of a brand or cause authentic or is this a façade? I just need to know what I am working with. Is it worth my reputation if the relationship goes south? I won’t gamble with my reputation. And I look for shared philosophy and intent. If I can’t find this affinity, then even the most polished enterprise may not be a risk worth taking. You want to know that you can be collaborative with equal energy and integrity.
Q: We’re headed into an election. Does America need to create a Secretary of Equality as a cabinet position in order to change how we interact and engage across all sectors of industry and society?
A: As promoter Don King famously said: “Only in America can you find so many angry people claiming to love their country, while hating almost anyone in it.” For individuals and brands, I think that to pursue change primarily through legislative channels is too limiting. Together we will achieve more if we become more mission focused as a global society with more independence than politics allows.
Q: You are adjunct business faculty at Temple University. I also teach an entrepreneurship course and have included a book by Daymond John, a successful self-made black entrepreneur known from “Shark Tank” and his founding of apparel company, FUBU. From your experience, is there something about how university coursework needs to evolve that will increase student command of the business advantages of building and joining inclusive organizations when they graduate?
A: Absolutely! Our entire education system needs to be overhauled to be more relevant and applicable to careers of all kinds. Content needs to be diversified and more integrated beyond one required African American Studies course, which is far too limiting. College graduates arrive to their employers and they don’t get how racism relates to them. Business is about doing business with people of different cultures. The lessons of Juneteenth and Black Wall Street need to be mainstreamed because it shapes how we conduct commerce today.
Q: Organizations, including the nonprofit PRSA Foundation, are looking to public relations for help in opening professional gateways for leaders of color. Do you have any practical guidance that will enable these efforts without them being received as patronizing?
A: They should have been doing all along, which is to accept the most qualified candidates. If you put the wrong person in a position, you will impede progress for your organization. Being inclusive for a search is important but be sure to hire on the basis of the big picture, not just to try to make up for lost time. You will be creating new problems for your brand and its economic or societal mission.
Q: Financial services is a major US business sector, particularly across the Northeast. Can you tell us about how your DE&I work is creating change for TD Bank or its relationship with customer markets?
A: They have an untold story: the company’s investment in collectible art. I’m working to introduce them to a younger, more diverse profile of deserving but possibly undiscovered artists. These acquisitions can make an economic impact in new neighborhoods and fund important preservation of social and cultural storytelling as chronicles history. What is lost about art is that people don’t realize is that artists are not born, but rather are created through teaching and self-learning. Artists are Latinx, Black, gay, and blind, but the fact that they are young or aren’t represented by galleries or brokers puts them at a disadvantage that thoughtful engagement can remedy. Preserving art is an important facet of documenting history.
Q: OK, where we have both lived in Philly, I have to ask if your favorite cheesesteak is Geno’s or Pat’s?
A: Ha! It won’t surprise anyone that I don’t follow the flock. I miss Jim’s in West Philly the most, but I will go to Larry’s or Ishkabibbles to find a solid cheesesteak. I should mention that For(bes) The Culture began three years ago this month at Anthem Kitchen & Bar in Boston. There’s a food thread here: consultants need to feed their ideas. I hope Anthem returns from COVID because their food was delicious. The pandemic has been relentlessly hard on the restaurant industry.
Q: I don’t have to tell you that this is a tumultuous time for the global economy on so many fronts: workforce displacement, the reckoning of racism and the pandemic. How would you advise public relations practitioners about how to navigate these issues when counseling an organization and carving out thought leadership space for them that is genuine?
A: I have learned through years of consulting and government work, including the White House and Congress, that it is important not only to advise leaders about hot button issues, but to craft authentic messages that make sense for them around these topics when it is not detrimental to their organizational character. PRSA espouses what I practice: always speak their truth. Trying to “be” the voice of an executive or a brand is counterproductive because it’s transparently inauthentic. I work in the other direction: I learn what the views of a client is first, in their voice, and then help them to bring those positions into relatable, clear messages. If you are too worried about being on either end of politically correctness or racy, I would say stop: just make sure they are on the right side of history.
Q: Do you have a favorite podcast for someone who wants to do private introspection on the broad and expanding movement that is diversity, equity and inclusion?
A: I should be on his payroll for the number of times I’ve recommended Malcomb Gladwell’s podcast “Revisionist History.” The content is highly relevant to the moment, but even the audio quality is attention-grabbing for you feel like you are hearing the audio of a video and can visualize his conversation. He puts important current issues into historical context. He questions the moral grounding of authority, such as the decision makers at universities that spend more on dining programs than to investing in scholarships for underserved communities. Powerful stuff, and very applicable to today.
Q: You are an acknowledged expert in ways that DE&I intersects with marketing. How do you inform your insights as a model for communicators who must stay educated for themselves and the organizational leadership they advise?
A: I think keeping an advisory circle from different sectors connects you to strategies for economic prosperity and social impact that are grounded in experience. This is a model that can be easily replicated. Philadelphia tech entrepreneur Dean Harris, developer Lamarr Kendrick and musician Chill Moody have become ambassadors for our home city and admirable ambassadors for entrepreneurism. The pandemic has put a spotlight on outlying centers of business opportunity, and Tayyib Smith is all over it by building a five-story entrepreneurship hub outside of downtown Philadelphia. The stories these guys tell in three to five years should be fascinating. I should say that it was my mother Joyce Lambert who gave me my sense of duty to serve others and to make a difference. She serves in government-funded Lambert Legacy Charities, which has fed and clothed over 5,000 people in need. She embodies entrepreneurism and service.
Rashaad Lambert (Panelist): Dir. of Culture & Community, Forbes and Strategic Partner of Social Impact, TD Bank
In an industry where diversity and racism have become part of the narrative among high-profile pro athletes, Rashaad has been immersed in creating pathways for addressing racism, equity and inclusion for their success during and outside of competition. Today, he wears two hats: as Strategic Partner of Social Impact for TD Bank and as Forbes’ Director of Culture & Community, through which he leads diversity initiatives targeting entrepreneurs. Through his For(bes) The Culture #CultureTalks platform on Instagram, Rashaad has galvanized a collaborative online think tank committed to improving access to more revenue and impact opportunities for communities that are marginalized when confronted with the uphill climb against bias or discrimination. The multicultural engagement inroads made by this proud Philadelphia native who attended Temple University have been recognized by the NAACP, Forbes, and the US Congress. He holds the distinguishing Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification for coaching and organizational change leadership.
October 14, 2020
For more than 25 years, Ed Patterson has championed socially conscious organizational change as a key communications strategist to agency, global corporate brands and nonprofits. Ultimately or purposefully, he carved a career that has uniquely allowed him to live his truth as a gay man in a position to show how inclusivity achieves business gains. Ironically, he acknowledges women leaders as key influencers in his journey, most notably his mother. As global communications leader for Hill+Knowlton Strategies, he finds that 2020 has ratcheted up the quest for accountability for change.
Q: Change doesn’t happen overnight. What are fair milestones to mark progress?
A: Such a truthful statement. And I think what also needs to be understood is most of us who work in this space do not expect it to happen overnight. It must be strategic, consistent and done with purpose—setting goals that are achievable and needle-moving. I like to use an example of my time serving on the Human Rights Campaign National Board of Governors. Our annual Equality Index looked at how businesses and organizations performed (internally and externally) in support of LGBTQ+ employees, customers and stakeholders. The numbers I found to be the most interesting—and impactful—were those that showed year-over-year improvement. From some organizations not even participating, to in just a few years being 100 percenters, the annual index allowed for goal setting, progress tracking and a plan to do more and do better. I encourage organizations to take a similar approach to their DE&I efforts.
Q: What does it mean to be an “ally?”
A: Goodness, I’d like to make it easy and say “my mom is the epitome of an ally”—she is. But how she got to be and how she works at it is the real definition. I am blessed she is a woman who values learning and embraces opportunities to expand her thinking and understanding of people, issues and problems. She did that with me a couple of decades ago, and she continues to do it now in how she looks at racial injustice, gender inequality and immigration. When America was being asked to read, learn and educate themselves following the murder of George Floyd, she was years ahead of this. As a woman born and raised in the segregated South, she lived through the horrors of racism during the 50s and 60s (and as she says is still living with systemic racism that surrounds her) and has always been on a quest to be a better ally to me and others. She is always reminding herself to see her day-to-day living through the lens of others. She understands her privilege and uses her intelligence to teach others, share her experiences, bringing perspective to others who may not see the world through that lens. But she also uses her actions to be an ally—when she shops, she shops with her Equality Index in tow. A true ally.
Q: As a professional communicator, how do you guide executive leadership into taking bold measures?
A: The past year has seen C-suites take some of the boldest steps we have seen in the work for true diversity and inclusion. It has allowed communicators to help our leadership be bolder; set more meaningful DE&I commitments and goals, and importantly, hold them and the organization accountable like no time in our history. This has called upon those of us to drive communications to bring this thinking to life. And I see the C-suite looking to us to be just that: a driver. I used to say that we communications professionals earn our keep when a crisis/issue rears its head within the organization—now I add the quest for real DE&I within our organizations as another such moment. We are not just wordsmith; we are the counselors that not only craft the story, but we are helping to lead the day-to-day work and progress.
Q: What are meaningful metrics of diversity, equity and inclusivity progress?
A: I am a bit bold here. Having worked with organizations on LGBTQ+ issues for many years, I have always stated that no one expects perfection; and certainly not even close to perfection tomorrow or next year. However, until leaders and organizations put metrics in place that have seismic impact, we will be having this same conversation two years from now; five years from now. Leadership metrics; hiring metrics; coaching and development of current employee metrics; community engagement metrics—all matter. And even more importantly, leadership compensation and goals must have DE&I metrics included. If we are going to continue to reward the highest levels of organizations with substantial compensation for a job well done, that job must include attainment of DE&I goals.
Q: Are there mentors or thought leaders you’d recommend for communicators?
A: I do try to read and talk to folks I find so helpful. But I’ll keep to a few who I know, and those with words, actions and passions that are so important today. First, I had the pleasure to attend a Leadership Atlanta program a few years back with Natasha Rice Reid—Associate Pastor at Ebenezer Baptist in Atlanta and General Counsel for Habitat for Humanity. Whenever I get a chance to touch base with her and my friends from that class; hear her on panels; read her inspirational messages on social media, I do that. She’s a gem. I had the opportunity to interview and get to know Annise Parker—former three-term Mayor of Houston, the first openly gay person elected mayor of a major city in the US, and currently president of the Victory Fund. Her life, her work—her continued work—and her outlook on the issues and challenges that face us is inspiring and important.
Ed Patterson: Head of Global Communications, LGBTQ & DE&I Strategist, Hill+Knowlton Strategies
Ed has provided cultural and organizational communications counsel to C-suites and boards of global organizations for more than 25 years, through which he was an early champion of diversity and inclusivity as operational guideposts for brand growth and workforce success. Today he leads global communications for PR agency stalwart Hill+Knowlton Strategies, a role that canvases news from its 80 offices across 40 countries. He recently announced H+K’s hiring of the global WPP’s company’s first top DE&I global and US officers. Ed is working toward a Master of Communications Management from the S.I. Newhouse School at Syracuse University and is an alumnus of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
October 8, 2020
Peggy Jablonski, Ed.D.
In 2020, this career university administrator turned consultant embarked on a compelling personal journey of racial awakening – the Cape Cod Camino Way Project – to understand racial and social justice in her own backyard and inform her future actions. This proved to be transformative for her work as a leadership coach, particularly for colleges with complex diversity and inclusion issues and nonprofits seeking to broaden their scope of service. In the context of small-group work, Peggy shares insights for an emerging blueprint in how organizations can gain from listening and learning about bias and racial history. This has emerged as a cornerstone for her leadership coaching practice, Jablonski Consulting Group. Peggy’s earned her Ed.D. at Boston University and completed coaching certifications and leadership tenures at Brown University, MIT, UNC at Chapel Hill, and her alma mater, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Loring Barnes, past president and longtime board member for PRSA Boston, recently sat down with Peggy to discuss her walking tour, which is currently being considered for a documentary, and how it has reshaped her perspectives and opened up a new pipeline of workshops.
Q: Why did you create the Cape Cod Camino Way this summer and what did you accomplish through this project?
A: To increase my awareness and deepen my understanding of racial and social justice, I created a walking pilgrimage through every town on Cape Cod, stopping at places of significance and listening to the stories of people I needed to hear.
By doing my own work to understand racism and the connections to other justice issues in my own backyard, such as economic, environmental, religious, LGBTQ and cultural issues, I became more aware of what needs to change and how we need to learn a more inclusive history. Through all that I deepened my commitment to social change. To learn more about the eight weeks of walks, themes and stories, please visit the Facebook page for blogs, videos and questions to expand your views.
I plan to write a book, accept speaking engagements to promote the Cape Cod Camino Way idea and continue to encourage individuals and groups to undertake similar projects to bridge the divide in this country and create much needed dialogue.
Q: Is there such thing as an anti-racist organization?
A: All organizations are inherently biased in one form or another. We have inherited from past generations a racist culture and society, from our educational system to our churches, government and economy. If we understand that our country was founded on the premise of slavery, and the ramifications over generations produced an inherently unequal system, then we can acknowledge that we need to reform all organizations to be supportive of all peoples moving forward. This is a very difficult and complex task, one that will take time to accomplished. And we can all do our part moving forward.
Q: What does it mean to be an “ally?”
A: To be an ally is to be an active participant in challenging the status quo, questioning systems of oppression and bias, speaking out and up to people in power and doing so with diplomacy and grace whenever possible to be heard. To be an ally is an ongoing act—every interaction is a new opportunity to be an ally. White people don’t get to just claim they are an ally because they are good people, or have done some reading. We need to show up on a consistent, regular basis and demonstrate our commitment to people of color.
Q: How do you pace urgency with reality in order to measure movement?
A: We are living in an age of constant change, instant communication and a level of violence that creates urgency for action. Just like our country experienced a convulsion of political, legal and cultural change in the late 60s and early 70s, we again find ourselves on a daily basis confronting systemic issues that need to be addressed. It is a time of urgency, and we do need to pace ourselves and our organizations at the same time as pushing on the levers of change to move forward. It’s like a seesaw; we will be out of balance and return to it again.
Q: So, getting to brass tacks, if someone wants to start from the beginning, what constitute useful metrics of diversity, equity and inclusivity progress?
A: Definitions matter first. Diversity is the presence of difference in a given setting, such as diversity of identities, like race, gender, religion, etc. Numbers of various groups and their positions within the organization are measures of diversity. Inclusion means that people with various identities feel valued, welcomed and leveraged within a team or organization. You can have a diverse team of talent but that doesn’t mean everyone feels welcomed or valued and mentored toward growth. Equity is an approach that ensures everyone has access to the same opportunities. Equity acknowledges that advantages and barriers still exist such that an organization intends to commit to correct his imbalance. Equity is an ongoing process to ensure that people with all identities have the opportunity to grow, contribute and develop, regardless of their identity.
Cape Cod Camino Way @Facebook: LINK
Cape Code Camino Way on NPR: INTERVIEW
Loring Barnes, APR, Fellow PRSA: CCO, Clarity Communications Group
Loring has been leading bold action campaigns, guiding M&A readiness and navigating crises for Fortune brands, government and start-ups for more than 30 years. She founded Clarity as a WBE-certified marketing and PR consultancy coming out of 9/11. The realities of “separate and unequal” became personal for her in high school when a parent’s job took her family to live in Johannesburg during apartheid. Her multicultural and multilanguage campaigns have earned recognition, to include by the White House at a United Nations Special Assembly. Loring visited the Equal Justice Museum in Montgomery, AL within weeks of its 2018 opening to fortify her historical learning on racism. She is a past PRSA Boston president and was inducted into the PRSA College of Fellows in 2017. She was the catalyst for PRSA’s increased efforts on disparities for women in PR’s executive ranks. Loring is only the fifth woman in 135 years to be elected to her town’s top government post and led a successful ballot initiative for the State Legislature to permanently revise the board’s name and all town charter references to be gender neutral. She is an “Alumni to Watch” award recipient of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and adjunct marketing faculty at Bryant University.