Black History Month: Black Futures and Progress in PR

As Black History Month comes to an end for another year, the conversations, actions and progress for equality must continue. Below, three Ketchum employees discuss what Black Futures means to them and how they think the PR industry needs to progress in order to be more inclusive.

  • Channelle Russell, Intern, Marcom
  • Ashley Sangster, Specialist, Talent Acquisition
  • Reagan Walker, Consultant, Analytics

What does Black Futures mean to you?

CR: Black Futures means a world where conditions are equitable, tolerant and inclusive. For me, as I approach the end of college and the rest of my life stares back at me, the future is something that weighs on me—where am I going and how am I going to get there? This uncertainty is heightened when I consider my position as a Black woman in a world where unequitable health conditions, displacement, and disillusionment are the way of the day. Black Futures, for me, means a future where Black women see ourselves realized in old and new spaces. Black Futures means taking a stake in the world we want and working towards it. But in order to fashion the future we want, the question is not so much can Black women speak but, rather, who is listening?

RW: Black Futures means so many things to me. Black Futures means Black people having access to communities that value their well-being. Black Futures means having the space to look up and see endless possibilities instead of a ceiling or a cage. Black Futures means Black people not having to sacrifice themselves or their values to fit into systems that perpetuate discrimination. Black Futures means having the hope for something better realized for yourself, your community and generations to come.

AS: It means everything. One of the main factors that pushes me every day is my niece, nephews and the younger generation. I want to set the stage for them because they are the future.

What does progress in inclusion look like for the PR industry?

RW: There are so many avenues that the PR industry can work through to be more inclusive. It’s really about creating space AND elevating voices, as well as using a framework that thinks through diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) from the very beginning. For example, as we work through diversifying the talent pipeline, are we also making sure that people from various backgrounds and perspectives will feel supported once they’re hired? Are we making sure resources are available AND visible? Are we giving opportunities in safe spaces for those from underrepresented or marginalized backgrounds to give insight, opinions or critique? The PR industry needs to prioritize intentionality in order to build retention and a work environment that fosters high-quality, thoughtful and empathetic work.

AS: It means seeing more people from diverse backgrounds at every level throughout an organization. In order to make continuous improvements, everyone needs a seat at the table. There are so many different ideas of what inclusion looks like, and they cannot be heard if these individuals are not in the room.

CR: Progress in inclusion means demystifying the PR industry as a whole. It means positioning the PR industry at the cutting-edge of work in diversity and creativity—and meaning it. For those looking to break into the industry, progress looks like taking a chance on young, entry-level candidates. It means looking, robustly and keenly, for Black recruits, Black board members, Black C-suite level employees—without reducing us to that which makes us different. We exist, but are we in the room? Making space is the measure of progress.

 

If you would like to speak to our team about Black Futures and your brand’s DE&I efforts, get in touch.