When I started my career as a public relations (PR) professional, I had the incredible opportunity to be a part of the DEI efforts at my school’s PRSSA chapter. While on the DEI subcommittee, I learned that according to the Diversity Alliance Benchmark Report, which details diverse representation in the communications industry, PR was only 21 percent diverse as of January 1, 2020, with  six percent of employees identifying as Hispanic or Latino. At the executive level, Hispanic or Latino staffers made up one percent of leadership and represented slightly more than one percent of overall employee promotions. I was shocked. Six percent is an embarrassingly small number and from that point on, I knew I wanted to help increase the diversity within our field. 

So, when I was recently given the opportunity to attend the Hispanic Public Relations Association’s (HPRA) 40th-anniversary event, “Celebrating Diversity: Latino and LGBTQ Storytelling” while representing Para Mi Gente, M Booth’s Employee Resource Group (ERG) for colleagues who identify as members of the Latine community, I jumped at the chance. 

First, I couldn’t believe there was an organization for folks like me in the PR field, and second, that I didn’t know about it sooner! I had an amazing time getting to know my fellow ERG members along with connecting with new folks in the industry.

The networking and panel event featured esteemed speakers, including Troy Blackwell Jr., Senior Advisor for the Biden-Harris Administration, Samy Nemir, Communications Strategist at Lambda Legal, Orlando Gonzales, SVP of Programs, Research, Training, at Human Rights Campaign, and Eunic Ortiz, Executive Vice President at The Leadership Conference in Civil and Human Rights. 

To say the panel was inspiring is an understatement. Each speaker brought a wealth of knowledge from their jobs and personal experiences as a member of both the Latine and LGBTQIA+ communities. Overall, they reiterated the importance of true diversity within the communications industry and made each and every one of us question, are we really doing everything in our power to be a good ally? As communication professionals, we have the power to counsel our clients on being inclusive and representative of diverse voices and not just during a heat moment. 

Intersectionality can be a complex concept to try to convey in PR campaigns. But in its simplest form, it means showcasing real human stories. Whether that means showing LGBTQ parents, a person receiving gender-affirming care, or a BIPOC company executive, these are all true stories and representative of the world we live in.

Out of all their amazing insights, I wanted to share a few that stood with me long after the conversation ended:

  • Authenticity within communication campaigns is key. Are people from the LGBTQIA+ demographic helping to shape the Pride Month campaign and communication? Are the LGBTQIA+ employees at these organizations/companies being treated fairly and equitably? If they aren’t then a crisis can arise—there should be equal measure with public-facing efforts and internal efforts.
  • Brands and companies need to do a better job at their inclusivity efforts with language barriers. Translating materials is not enough because the message that’s conveyed won’t always be the same message that’s intended. Campaign materials like ads need to be revised to reflect the culture of the community they’re speaking to.
  • PR storytelling can have a huge impact on representation and acceptance. Just by adding community acknowledgments in ads, press releases, messaging, social posts, and more, can lift visibility and add to much-needed representation. 

I am thrilled to have attended such an important discussion as I started to think through ways of how to take these key learnings and apply them to my work across the DEI efforts at M Booth and in my client work.

I’m so proud to be a representative of a company that invests in its BIPOC employees: Para Mi Gente ERG members now have a membership to HPRA to further their professional development and connect with folks with similar backgrounds. Special shout out to Matthew Bautista, Ashley Skerritt, Marcella Ibarra, and Ana Martinez for attending the event with me!

M Booth is proud to sponsor HPRA Mission and our employees are now members who can benefit from their amazing programming.

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