Skip to main content
WP_Query Object ( [query] => Array ( [name] => diversity-inclusion-in-public-affairs-with-the-public-affairs-councils-erica-harris [post_type] => resources [resource-type] => info ) [query_vars] => Array ( [name] => diversity-inclusion-in-public-affairs-with-the-public-affairs-councils-erica-harris [post_type] => resources [resource-type] => info [error] => [m] => [p] => 0 [post_parent] => [subpost] => [subpost_id] => [attachment] => [attachment_id] => 0 [pagename] => [page_id] => 0 [second] => [minute] => [hour] => [day] => 0 [monthnum] => 0 [year] => 0 [w] => 0 [category_name] => [tag] => [cat] => [tag_id] => [author] => [author_name] => [feed] => [tb] => [paged] => 0 [meta_key] => [meta_value] => [preview] => [s] => [sentence] => [title] => [fields] => [menu_order] => [embed] => [category__in] => Array ( ) [category__not_in] => Array ( ) [category__and] => Array ( ) [post__in] => Array ( ) [post__not_in] => Array ( ) [post_name__in] => Array ( ) [tag__in] => Array ( ) [tag__not_in] => Array ( ) [tag__and] => Array ( ) [tag_slug__in] => Array ( ) [tag_slug__and] => Array ( ) [post_parent__in] => Array ( ) [post_parent__not_in] => Array ( ) [author__in] => Array ( ) [author__not_in] => Array ( ) [ignore_sticky_posts] => [suppress_filters] => [cache_results] => 1 [update_post_term_cache] => 1 [lazy_load_term_meta] => 1 [update_post_meta_cache] => 1 [posts_per_page] => 10 [nopaging] => [comments_per_page] => 50 [no_found_rows] => [order] => DESC ) [tax_query] => [meta_query] => WP_Meta_Query Object ( [queries] => Array ( ) [relation] => [meta_table] => [meta_id_column] => [primary_table] => [primary_id_column] => [table_aliases:protected] => Array ( ) [clauses:protected] => Array ( ) [has_or_relation:protected] => ) [date_query] => [queried_object] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 5769 [post_author] => 12 [post_date] => 2021-10-11 21:29:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-10-11 21:29:00 [post_content] =>

Hear the session from 2021 Wonk Week: Introduction [00:00:00] Today I'll be talking as you know about diversity and inclusion in public affairs. So quickly a little on the Council. The Public Affairs Council is the largest association dedicated to the public affairs profession, which includes policy comms, grassroots advocacy, government relations, PAC management, global public affairs, and CSR, sustainability, and DEI. Our 750 plus members range from large companies like Microsoft and Walmart to associations and nonprofits like the American Medical Association and AARP. So I'd like to first ground us in two definitions, given that this is the title, this is what we're talking about of diversity and equity. Diversity. And again,  we use the definitions provided by ASAE. So diversity refers to the composition of a group of people from any number of demographic backgrounds, identities, and the collective strength of their experiences, beliefs, values, skills, and perspectives. Diverse organizations are not by definition. Inclusive inclusion is the act of establishing policies, philosophies, practices, and procedures to ensure equal access to opportunities and resources to support individuals in contributing to an organization's success. Inclusive organizations are diverse at all levels and sandwich together. D&I refers to an organization's strategy, scope of work, and pledge to advancing diversity and inclusive excellence. So today I'm going to briefly touch on a couple surveys that we do at the Council. We have the privilege of again, having a very large member base. So we are able to pull big groupings of data, collect and disseminate that and touch on the biggest topics such as diversity, equity, inclusion amongst other things. [00:02:00]  So I'll briefly touch on a couple of surveys that we have out, and then I will briefly review a couple adaptable frameworks for you all. And then, one of which deals with engaging in social issues and the other is incorporating a race equity lens in your policy. Then I will quickly discuss the value of partnership and show a couple of samples and close by providing you with information. As Patrick alluded to for an exciting event, the Council is having with one of the pillars being centered on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

DEI & Public Affairs Survey Results

So on surveys, this past spring, the Council disseminated its first DEI trends and public affairs report. This survey, or this report, looked at the landscape of diversity, equity, inclusion in public affairs. We fielded from February 9th through March 5th. We sent it out to 1100 public affairs executives and we received a usable sample of 120. So here's who responded a majority of the responses or the respondents held or hold, leadership level positions with 61 at the VP level or higher. These respondents also have extensive experience in the public affairs profession with 82% reporting at at least 10 years of professional experience in roughly half with 26 of this pie corporations account for the majority of the sample with 32 being from large corporations and 21% being from small to midsize. There's also a good representation from trades and professional societies at 26% and consulting firms, law firms and service providers at 15%. So, what do we see? We saw there's room for growth. One of the questions we asked respondents was to describe the racial and ethnic diversity of their public affairs function compared to the profession as a whole. [00:04:00] And what did we find? We found out that there was alignment between the perceived diversity of folks, public affairs functions and the actual diversity of their function. So what do we mean by that? For folks that reported having low diversity, they did in fact have low diversity. What the average diversity composition being at about 3%, with those who perceived their function as having average diversity, they had an actual diversity of about 14% in those who perceive their function as having well above average diversity, it had an actual diversity measurement of about 51. And what that said to us was, okay, people are looking at their public affairs function and assessing the diversity of it. And they are perceiving their function to be as it is in reality and not how they think it should be or how it could be and they were right and believing that their public affairs function was lacking in diversity. And another question we asked was, do you believe that the lack of diversity in public affairs is basically a barrier to entry. And what we saw is that 61% of respondents felt that the lack of diversity discourages entry into them. So on the same theme of perceived diversity, we asked respondents to describe the racial and ethnic diversity of the public affairs field to someone not in the profession. And respondents gave the profession 30 on a scale of zero to 100 with zero being not diverse at all and a hundred being very diverse. And again, that's up to us. Okay. We heard that it's a barrier entry, but that we also see that, you know, this, there is like very low diversity in general. So then we looked at, composition as I just talked about, and we wanted to learn more about the incorporated. [00:06:00] So it is diversity equity inclusion incorporate into your strategic plan. And I should pause to say that we asked a lot of other questions, but since I am covering two other surveys, I just wanted to hit on the top line. So you get a good idea of the landscape of diversity equity inclusion in public affairs. So, for the majority of respondents, which is an exciting thing to see, 59% reported that they have incorporated diversity, equity, and inclusion into a company-wide strategy 10% reported that while they might not have diversity, equity, inclusion incorporated into a company-wide strategic plan, they do have diversity equity inclusion incorporated into a specific department plan i.e. comms, GR, something of the sort, 21%, which has also, hopeful metric, haven't, but they're considered. 7% say no, and 3% actually are unaware. They don't know. So that was interesting for us to see. So, I'm about to close out this survey and dig into another one, but this we saw what are some of them, we asked folks, what are the, some of the top benefits of realizing diversity, equity, inclusion, and publication. And as public affairs professionals, you know, we hit on a bunch of different things. It could be external relations, internal relations, communications, et cetera. And, the most popular answer was cultural sensitivity when advocating on difficult issues. So companies and public affairs leaders responded that they want to be able to both talk the talk and walk the walk. They want to be culturally sensitive, culturally conscious. They're on the Hill or when they're in state houses, when they're advocating on issues, coming in at a strong second is stronger relationships with stakeholders and potential allies. So the idea that, champion diversity equity inclusion is not only important to your business, but it's important for trust-building for brand building for brand rapidity, improved employee morale. So that ties back into diversity and inclusion. When I was talking about those definitions earlier, the idea that companies, basically want their employees to feel a sense of belonging and feel welcomed and feel like they can bring their whole selves to work. And part of that is realizing diversity equity. [00:08:00] And then the last two go hand in hand, stronger employee support for organizations, political engagement. So if you are actualizing diversity, equity and inclusion, feeling like your organism, you're comfortable with how your organization is engaging in political activities and better relationships with elected officials. As we know this Congress is the most diverse in history. So ensuring that you as a company, are realizing that and, being responsive to the changing composition of the United States and of our elections. So that's that survey. I will say we are doing that survey, on an annual basis now, but that was our first one. And we were really excited to see those findings. And I provided that survey first to kind of ground us on the public affairs late. And now I will provide some information and data around public opinion.

Public Opinion on Business and Society

So, September 2nd, through the sixth, we partnered with Morning Consult to provide an in-depth look at us, public opinion on issues intersecting with business government and society. And these issues include growing levels of public distrust, COVID-19 vaccine mandates, concerns about democracy, the persistence of racism in America, which I'll dive in, and the doubts about the integrity of the news media. So this chart provides something that I think is really important. We saw that public affairs functions are lacking in diversity and folks are reporting that, but this public opinion survey shows that many folks believe that racism is an issue in a persistent issue. [00:10:00] And 40% of respondents responded that America is becoming more racist and 39% responded neither more nor less, but acknowledging that racism is persistent and 13% said less racist and 18, 8%. So again, harping on, a majority of respondents consider racism to be somewhat over a serious problem or a very serious problem, meaning, champion diversity, equity inclusion, it's critically important. And then we also looked at a breakdown by party. So we saw that 91% of Democrats believe racism is somewhat or a very serious problem. Republicans also widely believe that racism is somewhat of a serious problem at 46% and 49% consider it not too serious or not serious.

How are Companies Engaging on Social Issues

So one more survey and then I will dig into the other things I'm going to talk about. But this one I actually think is really important. So we looked at how our member base, so the whole public affairs community views, the public affairs landscape. Then we just looked at public opinion. And now we're going to look at corporations engaging on social issues. So the council, in July conducted a survey of major corporations to better understand social issue involvement. We synthesize to a wide range of industries over a thousand privately and publicly traded companies. And the survey we received about 82 companies providing us with usable results. And the survey respondents represent many different industry sectors. The largest are manufacturing and, diversified financial services and insurance. And this survey was to better understand social issue involvement. So how are companies engaging in social issues? And we looked at stakeholder pressure, which I will specifically dive into which issues companies are advocating for. [00:12:00]What specific actions have they taken and how have these practices changed over the past five years? And some of the critical findings where companies are taking a stand on civil rights. Issues involving race issues involving gender and sexual orientation equality, much more frequently than other categories of issues and dating back to 2016. I will say that, I didn't include this here, but one of the top issues that companies were really concerned with in 2016 was around sustainability, but, civil rights has superseded that now and over 80% of the companies, are currently engaged in these causes. So for a variety of reasons, but for this audience, I thought one was very interesting, which is stakeholder pressure. So none of the respondents say that pressure has decreased. So there is urgency in the space, corporations, public affairs functions, specifically to act and get actively engaged. In social issues in a responsible manner. So over 90% of companies say pressure had increased significantly, 43% saying it increased significantly, and 48% saying somewhat in the past three years. And, the largest companies with revenue greater than 15 billion annually experienced the most pressure over the past three. Well, every company in the top revenue category reports an increase pressure to engage in social issues, 55% report it significantly. So I'll end with this, that we talked about stakeholder pressure, so we know it's there and we know companies are concerned and we know that they're acting out of concern, but I also want to make sure that, I bring up employees so employees are concerned with social issues in a 2019 Gartner's study  of over 30,000 people, worldwide 87% of employees said businesses should take a position on societal issues relevant to their business. And 74% said, businesses should take a position on issues, even if they aren't directly relevant to their business. [00:14:00] Take that how you please, but understanding that employees are voicing concern. Corporations, specifically the ones that we surveyed are feeling stakeholder pressure. Some may be from employees, but stakeholder pressure. So now that we've kind of gotten an overview of the data what's happening in the public affairs profession, as it relates to the business community, as it relates to public opinions, and as it relates to, corporations, I'm now going to dive into some frames. So at the Council, we were thinking a lot about social issue engagement. We had members come to us and say, well, I'm thinking about engaging in this social issue, but I'm not really sure how, or I'd really like to, amplify my sophistication on this issue, but I don't really know how, or is this appropriate for us to champion. And we know that many of our members are either pivoting or thinking about restructuring, their policies, programs, and procedures, to have a lens of diversity equity inclusion. Both could be responsive to the time, but because there is a collective call to action across business communities across the world to be more responsive to societal needs.

Tools for Engagement on Social Issues & Racial Equity

So we came up with this, diagram. So it's similar to a decision tree, I would say, but it's more of a continuum. So we were thinking about what it means to start off small and then just grow in your sophistication. So as a supporter, let's say you champion X issue, you would start to convene an internal committee. [00:16:00]  So maybe you grabbed someone from your comms team and someone from HR and a director, and y'all all get in a room and you think about it. And that's your internal committee and then you solicit employee input. So you're asking other employees how they feel. Then you're pulling stakeholders and you're coordinating with corporate peers. So you're asking others in the space, how they view your issue. Or the issue you want to champion your monitoring in prioritizing that she, which I think is critically important, understanding that this issue may look very different in Texas than how it does in Boston. You're updating your stakeholders and you're making general statements about the issues and how it relates to your company values and ensuring that your company values are in line with the issues. And then as the partner, you're engaging with employee resource groups. You've moved on from the supporter. And again, this is fluid. So I shouldn't say move on. You may be shifting. And so you have employee resource groups. So now you have the infrastructure in place to think about social issues, as it relates to diversity equity inclusion, you understand the data you're looking at engaging in something, in your holding either employee resource groups or town halls, then you're joining other companies and you're creating a post. And you're committing to supporting you're setting up systems for reporting. You're taking a clear position, which I think is also something to stop and harp on for one second. Is that when we think about, diversity, equity, and inclusion, when we think about social issues, whether it's an internal statement or an external commitment, taking a clear position insured. The trust-building that employees are looking for the trust-building that stakeholders want from you and, the reputation and brand management, knowing that you're not just hopping in and hopping out, you've done it with intentionality. So at the champion level, this is when you have a sophisticated function that can propel social issues. [00:18:00] So you've considered a key policy issue. You've backed it with resources, which is key. And you have a policy position in alignment with your company's activities. So you're committing to champion this for X community, and that is in line with your mission, your vision, the roots of your organization. What's on your way. You're taking leadership roles in coalitions and associations. So you're out front and people know that you've been doing this work because at the supporter and partner level, you've engaged in it with intentionality, you're providing regular updates to your stakeholder. So you're letting people know what are you doing in this space? And, your community, your CEO is a visible supporter of this. So, this is kind of how we're thinking about social issue engagement with a lens of diversity equity inclusion through, each one of these little bubbles. And I encourage all of you to reach out to me if you're interested in learning more. So something else I thought that was really important for this audience, as we think about diversity, equity inclusion and or diversity and inclusion and public affairs is this race equity tool. So the framework before was a little bit more on, when to engage and how to engage. But this race equity tool is a simple set of questions that guides the engagement. So specifically with the lens of race equity, starting with your vision and ending with how you're going to strengthen your work. So what is your vision for the future is how it starts off and it ends with how do you hold yourself accountable? And quickly going through this, but I just want to want you all to look at and see that, you know if you get to the accountability part of this, and you're like, ha actually I'm unable to hold myself accountable because something in the data isn't quite right, or I'm unable to hold myself accountable or hold us accountable to this because I can't meet our plan or we haven't figured out how to best partner with the community. [00:20:00] This is just like, the other stakeholder engagement framework. So it allows you to kind of go in and out and say, okay, if I messed up in the implementation phase, let's go back to the data phase and see, are we implementing the right strategies? Are we helping who we need to help? So, I encourage you all to look at this tool and to think really deeply about these questions when you're thinking about your policy priorities, when you're thinking about engaging in social issues, when you're thinking about internal policies around race equity, around inclusion because I think it's a really helpful guide or that's just kind of a pulse. Am I here is this right? Does this align with what we want to champion as an organization, as a GR team, as an HR team, et cetera? So now we've talked about tools. We've talked about what the survey data says or suggests, and I will get into a little bit about the value of partnerships. So I think oftentimes we think, okay, well I have someone doing this in X department, or I'm just going to lean on HR for everything. I want to encourage you all to do that, but also consider partnering with other folks in the space to help you think about race equity. Think about diversity, equity, inclusion for your policy priorities, for your advocacy strategy. Prior to joining the Public Affairs Council. I was at a place called Achieve Mission and we were doing more nonprofit consulting, but it was for, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we would help whole organizations, or we would help departments think about what race equity looks like, what it means to embed inclusion into your policies, into your structures. [00:22:00] What does it mean to create programs with the output being equity for. Not the output being, you know, X bill pass, but the output being equity. And then yes, the bill will pass or I'm hoping the bill will pass after I develop these advocacy strikes. So I think, so I offer this, these are just two examples of both independent consultants and institutes. So the Racial Equity Institute would do something like a full-on workshop, which is sometimes good. Just to make sure again, one of the key responses we got from our public affairs, survey. Our report that we did last spring was that folks wanted a cultural sense or folks really thought about embedding diversity, equity inclusion for the importance of cultural sensitivity to topic areas that doesn't happen overnight. And it's something that, you know, you need to work on through either partnering with a consultant or offering resources or training and things of the sort, but it can be fun. It can be light, but just understanding, that those types of sensitivities, types of, understanding where the gap areas are, come from training, come from partnerships, come from listening, learning, and reading. What folks in this space such as independent consultants and institutes have to say or are doing right now. So a little bit on. I think one of the critical points I'm so glad Quorum, was able to post me today is the importance of building community with other folks in the space who either are, have diversity, equity, and inclusion, in their jobs, roles, and responsibilities. I don't have it in their job roles and responsibilities at all, or just thinking about it and want to be active partners, want to be allies, want to be supporters of the work, because it takes a village and it's important to think through all these things, as you know, something that is only done through collective effort. [00:24:00] And just when we think we're done, we're not done. So this brings me to at the Council we are hosting our first social impact summit, which I know I was moving fast because we had a lot to cover, but this social impact summit, is set to take place on November 9th, virtually and it's centered on, three practice areas, social responsibility, sustainability and diversity equity inclusion. And we're really thinking about the intersections there because as public affairs professionals, we understand that we're thinking about right now, we're thinking about the client project. We're thinking about next year and later on after that. So we intentionally named the stride because we're really focused on what it means to be forward. Moving in this work, what it means to make continuous efforts, to ensure our physical environment. Our living environment, making sure that folks feel safe and comfortable, but also knowledgeable about all these issue areas. So we, are excited to be having sessions that are covering things such as employment to wellbeing. What it means to have a diverse legislative advocacy program, what it means to be an ally to your colleagues and, sessions will be on things like materiality for our sustainability folks and chip championing, charitable initiatives that directly relate to communities, for more of the traditional social responsibility work.

Questions

[00:26:00] D& I is so important at every level of the organization, hiring retention, communications, employee, community engagement, initiatives, any advice on or examples on how organizations have reviewed their efforts across internally facing and externally facing departments and avoid silos. No, that's a great question. So specifically for some of our members internally, if I think if I'm getting your question, right, how do you avoid silence when you're doing this work internally and externally, I will speak on a little bit about the consulting work I was doing before the Council in reality. What's important is that this work has been championed at the leadership level. So once senior leadership gets on board and says, okay, this is something that we want to do. This is something that is going to be grounded in the DNA of our organization. That kind of avoids this, the notion that there's. Or kind of helps with silos. I do think the work of how to avoid, kind of active exclusion of different groups who are at different maturity levels, when it comes to diversity, equity inclusion happens through facilitated conversations. It happens through trainings, it happens through manager one-on-ones where you can really process and talk about what this work looks like. And when it comes to externally facing. What really needs, what really should happen or what I used to advise clients when I was working as the importance of, ensuring that what you're doing internally is really reflective of what you're saying externally. So you aren't going out. And, you know, championing diversity equity inclusion by itself, but employees still feel like they don't, have a sense of belonging at the organization. [00:28:00]So I think the silos are avoided in two parts. One is when leadership is bought in and there is alignment on how to set up this work and is not just the immediate pivot. It's bringing folks along the way and meeting them where they are and then pushing them forward. And then externally it's being able to, ensure that your ducks are in order enough to be able to communicate honestly and appropriately to external-facing folks. So how are companies and organizations objectively measuring success in D&I, especially for resource allocation purposes? Is it based on the increase in diversity hiring increase in sales victory at the election booth? What are some ways that folks have been able to prove an ROI on their successes? That's a great question. It's a hard question because it is really dependent on the company on their goals. I will say. One of the things that we've seen is, having more diverse leadership. So being able to provide metrics on internal representational, diversity, being able to provide metrics on retention, but when it comes to success, I think success or, companies are focusing more on impact. So when you're thinking about what diversity, equity, inclusion looks like, you might create, your own framework or your own. Kind of goals or deliverables or things of the soar, based on your board or based on your shareholders, et cetera, et cetera. But, it's really hard to measure these type of initiatives one, because if you are a smaller organization, you might not have the infrastructure, but for larger organizations, yes, there are. [00:30:00] Diversity data metrics in place that I'm more and more so are likely to get mandated from the federal level. So folks are using things like that, but, for like a smaller association or, you know, a mid-level company, it really was Determined by what your leadership and what your human resource department deems, as, you know, the most critical metrics to measure. It could be retention. It could be, staff engagement. It could be, you know, the rate of involvement and your initiatives. So it could be how many bills you pass that have, you know, this lens. So it's depending on. But as of course, like, as you get larger, as your companies are larger, you are kind of basing yours off federal. One question here, about the survey where public affairs professionals said, um, racism was a larger problem. Did they offer any qualitative analysis on that? About what, what their thoughts were? Or was it just, like a yes or no? Kind of a question. So, Be able to likely dig in more of that later, but really, so we didn't provide as much anecdotal data around that. But yes, I believe in our report, we do have a couple of key examples and for anyone who wants to know more specifics or wants to read the longer report, I can provide a link. Can you talk a little bit more about the Stride conference? So who's like the target audience member for that. What are you hoping that they come away with at the end of that conference? [00:32:00] Sure. So for stride, we are building a newer community. So we're hoping that folks, regardless of where they sit in a second. We'll feel excited and comfortable coming to a conference where we're going to be championing diversity, equity, inclusion, sustainability, and social responsibility. Those three areas specifically, because we realize that not only are they intertwined, but they're where today's pressing issues lie. So, we will talk about everything that our members have told us and everything that, really. To, kind of engage in work towards, to better society. So we're going to be talking about like I mentioned, charitable initiatives, but we're also going to be talking and talking about legislative advocacy, and then we'll be talking about updated ESG reporting mandates because we realized that, they might come down while we're in our conference is key to companies who are larger, who are thinking about, what it means to actively participate in that area. So we're seeing deep into intersections around what it means to be engaged in social issues, what it means to, engage in social responsibility. During COVID recovery, post-racial reckoning, we're seeing, just even intersections and want to have a full and robust conversation about what it means to, kind of activate those juices in your work as public affairs person. Do you have any recommendations for folks who might be, lower-level not necessarily in leadership positions on how you get executive buy-in from someone who might be, you know, a little more cynical, right. So I think the best thing to do, or a couple of key things to do, when you're thinking about leadership buy-in and wanting to start something at your organization is really take time and have those conversations. [00:34:00] So talk with your manager and say, you know what? I don't think we have this here. But this is the data shows that this is happening, or I'd really like to have a deep conversation with how I can feel better supported in my time here, or I've lost a sense of belonging here and I think it's really important that leadership knows. And then I feel like that's a great room, or we would say in my previous organization, it's a great room to manage up, to grow in the organization, by offering those insights. You never want to feel like you're shouldering the burden of, you know, propelling the work on your own. But if you're in that position where it doesn't exist, it's a great place for you to, you know, help create the roadmap, help create that path, for, continued conversation for new initiatives for opportunity. And most likely leadership will be excited to hear that there are folks there that want to better the organization through championing those initiatives. You spoke a good bit about partnerships and one of the questions here is, we'd love to hear insight on the racial equity executive order for government agencies and how to align their plans with our work. Is that something you could see? We don't work that much. Not I, a little, little teeny bet dealt with that in my previous position, achieve mission before we went to dissolution. But what I will let you all know is that I was previously at independent sector and they did a full webinar, on that. So I think they'd be a really good resource to talk about how to find specific. That's a great point. Are there any other resources that you frequently refer to that you can tell our audience about? And so they can go read more? [00:36:00]Sure. So there are a lot of different places where I, kind of see what's happening in the space. So one of them is just reading, my newsletters every morning. So oftentimes. We aren't looking at, policies or looking at recent news, like the hell or things for through a lens of diversity equity inclusion, but it's really important to say or critical to see what, what folks were championing, and what policies and priorities they're engaging in. So just those types of, newsletters and new sites, but I'm also really interested and continue to listen to folks' podcasts. I love to hear a new podcast. So, Benevity has a new podcast that they just started. They're a gifting platform. And, they have a podcast centered on purpose and it was one of the podcasts that, you know, I never expected to, really stumble upon, but I listened to it. And then. Really talk about what it means to lead purpose-driven initiatives. So I think podcasts are a great way to, hear what's happening in the space while you're doing your work. So I listen to that. I also follow some practitioners on Twitter and Instagram and stuff in the space that I used to work with that I know are doing good work now.   [post_title] => Diversity & Inclusion in Public Affairs with the Public Affairs Council's Erica Harris [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => diversity-inclusion-in-public-affairs-with-the-public-affairs-councils-erica-harris [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-10-11 21:29:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-10-11 21:29:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.quorum.us/?post_type=resources&p=5769 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => resources [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [queried_object_id] => 5769 [request] => SELECT wp_posts.* FROM wp_posts WHERE 1=1 AND wp_posts.post_name = 'diversity-inclusion-in-public-affairs-with-the-public-affairs-councils-erica-harris' AND wp_posts.post_type = 'resources' ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC [posts] => Array ( [0] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 5769 [post_author] => 12 [post_date] => 2021-10-11 21:29:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-10-11 21:29:00 [post_content] =>

Hear the session from 2021 Wonk Week: Introduction [00:00:00] Today I'll be talking as you know about diversity and inclusion in public affairs. So quickly a little on the Council. The Public Affairs Council is the largest association dedicated to the public affairs profession, which includes policy comms, grassroots advocacy, government relations, PAC management, global public affairs, and CSR, sustainability, and DEI. Our 750 plus members range from large companies like Microsoft and Walmart to associations and nonprofits like the American Medical Association and AARP. So I'd like to first ground us in two definitions, given that this is the title, this is what we're talking about of diversity and equity. Diversity. And again,  we use the definitions provided by ASAE. So diversity refers to the composition of a group of people from any number of demographic backgrounds, identities, and the collective strength of their experiences, beliefs, values, skills, and perspectives. Diverse organizations are not by definition. Inclusive inclusion is the act of establishing policies, philosophies, practices, and procedures to ensure equal access to opportunities and resources to support individuals in contributing to an organization's success. Inclusive organizations are diverse at all levels and sandwich together. D&I refers to an organization's strategy, scope of work, and pledge to advancing diversity and inclusive excellence. So today I'm going to briefly touch on a couple surveys that we do at the Council. We have the privilege of again, having a very large member base. So we are able to pull big groupings of data, collect and disseminate that and touch on the biggest topics such as diversity, equity, inclusion amongst other things. [00:02:00]  So I'll briefly touch on a couple of surveys that we have out, and then I will briefly review a couple adaptable frameworks for you all. And then, one of which deals with engaging in social issues and the other is incorporating a race equity lens in your policy. Then I will quickly discuss the value of partnership and show a couple of samples and close by providing you with information. As Patrick alluded to for an exciting event, the Council is having with one of the pillars being centered on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

DEI & Public Affairs Survey Results

So on surveys, this past spring, the Council disseminated its first DEI trends and public affairs report. This survey, or this report, looked at the landscape of diversity, equity, inclusion in public affairs. We fielded from February 9th through March 5th. We sent it out to 1100 public affairs executives and we received a usable sample of 120. So here's who responded a majority of the responses or the respondents held or hold, leadership level positions with 61 at the VP level or higher. These respondents also have extensive experience in the public affairs profession with 82% reporting at at least 10 years of professional experience in roughly half with 26 of this pie corporations account for the majority of the sample with 32 being from large corporations and 21% being from small to midsize. There's also a good representation from trades and professional societies at 26% and consulting firms, law firms and service providers at 15%. So, what do we see? We saw there's room for growth. One of the questions we asked respondents was to describe the racial and ethnic diversity of their public affairs function compared to the profession as a whole. [00:04:00] And what did we find? We found out that there was alignment between the perceived diversity of folks, public affairs functions and the actual diversity of their function. So what do we mean by that? For folks that reported having low diversity, they did in fact have low diversity. What the average diversity composition being at about 3%, with those who perceived their function as having average diversity, they had an actual diversity of about 14% in those who perceive their function as having well above average diversity, it had an actual diversity measurement of about 51. And what that said to us was, okay, people are looking at their public affairs function and assessing the diversity of it. And they are perceiving their function to be as it is in reality and not how they think it should be or how it could be and they were right and believing that their public affairs function was lacking in diversity. And another question we asked was, do you believe that the lack of diversity in public affairs is basically a barrier to entry. And what we saw is that 61% of respondents felt that the lack of diversity discourages entry into them. So on the same theme of perceived diversity, we asked respondents to describe the racial and ethnic diversity of the public affairs field to someone not in the profession. And respondents gave the profession 30 on a scale of zero to 100 with zero being not diverse at all and a hundred being very diverse. And again, that's up to us. Okay. We heard that it's a barrier entry, but that we also see that, you know, this, there is like very low diversity in general. So then we looked at, composition as I just talked about, and we wanted to learn more about the incorporated. [00:06:00] So it is diversity equity inclusion incorporate into your strategic plan. And I should pause to say that we asked a lot of other questions, but since I am covering two other surveys, I just wanted to hit on the top line. So you get a good idea of the landscape of diversity equity inclusion in public affairs. So, for the majority of respondents, which is an exciting thing to see, 59% reported that they have incorporated diversity, equity, and inclusion into a company-wide strategy 10% reported that while they might not have diversity, equity, inclusion incorporated into a company-wide strategic plan, they do have diversity equity inclusion incorporated into a specific department plan i.e. comms, GR, something of the sort, 21%, which has also, hopeful metric, haven't, but they're considered. 7% say no, and 3% actually are unaware. They don't know. So that was interesting for us to see. So, I'm about to close out this survey and dig into another one, but this we saw what are some of them, we asked folks, what are the, some of the top benefits of realizing diversity, equity, inclusion, and publication. And as public affairs professionals, you know, we hit on a bunch of different things. It could be external relations, internal relations, communications, et cetera. And, the most popular answer was cultural sensitivity when advocating on difficult issues. So companies and public affairs leaders responded that they want to be able to both talk the talk and walk the walk. They want to be culturally sensitive, culturally conscious. They're on the Hill or when they're in state houses, when they're advocating on issues, coming in at a strong second is stronger relationships with stakeholders and potential allies. So the idea that, champion diversity equity inclusion is not only important to your business, but it's important for trust-building for brand building for brand rapidity, improved employee morale. So that ties back into diversity and inclusion. When I was talking about those definitions earlier, the idea that companies, basically want their employees to feel a sense of belonging and feel welcomed and feel like they can bring their whole selves to work. And part of that is realizing diversity equity. [00:08:00] And then the last two go hand in hand, stronger employee support for organizations, political engagement. So if you are actualizing diversity, equity and inclusion, feeling like your organism, you're comfortable with how your organization is engaging in political activities and better relationships with elected officials. As we know this Congress is the most diverse in history. So ensuring that you as a company, are realizing that and, being responsive to the changing composition of the United States and of our elections. So that's that survey. I will say we are doing that survey, on an annual basis now, but that was our first one. And we were really excited to see those findings. And I provided that survey first to kind of ground us on the public affairs late. And now I will provide some information and data around public opinion.

Public Opinion on Business and Society

So, September 2nd, through the sixth, we partnered with Morning Consult to provide an in-depth look at us, public opinion on issues intersecting with business government and society. And these issues include growing levels of public distrust, COVID-19 vaccine mandates, concerns about democracy, the persistence of racism in America, which I'll dive in, and the doubts about the integrity of the news media. So this chart provides something that I think is really important. We saw that public affairs functions are lacking in diversity and folks are reporting that, but this public opinion survey shows that many folks believe that racism is an issue in a persistent issue. [00:10:00] And 40% of respondents responded that America is becoming more racist and 39% responded neither more nor less, but acknowledging that racism is persistent and 13% said less racist and 18, 8%. So again, harping on, a majority of respondents consider racism to be somewhat over a serious problem or a very serious problem, meaning, champion diversity, equity inclusion, it's critically important. And then we also looked at a breakdown by party. So we saw that 91% of Democrats believe racism is somewhat or a very serious problem. Republicans also widely believe that racism is somewhat of a serious problem at 46% and 49% consider it not too serious or not serious.

How are Companies Engaging on Social Issues

So one more survey and then I will dig into the other things I'm going to talk about. But this one I actually think is really important. So we looked at how our member base, so the whole public affairs community views, the public affairs landscape. Then we just looked at public opinion. And now we're going to look at corporations engaging on social issues. So the council, in July conducted a survey of major corporations to better understand social issue involvement. We synthesize to a wide range of industries over a thousand privately and publicly traded companies. And the survey we received about 82 companies providing us with usable results. And the survey respondents represent many different industry sectors. The largest are manufacturing and, diversified financial services and insurance. And this survey was to better understand social issue involvement. So how are companies engaging in social issues? And we looked at stakeholder pressure, which I will specifically dive into which issues companies are advocating for. [00:12:00]What specific actions have they taken and how have these practices changed over the past five years? And some of the critical findings where companies are taking a stand on civil rights. Issues involving race issues involving gender and sexual orientation equality, much more frequently than other categories of issues and dating back to 2016. I will say that, I didn't include this here, but one of the top issues that companies were really concerned with in 2016 was around sustainability, but, civil rights has superseded that now and over 80% of the companies, are currently engaged in these causes. So for a variety of reasons, but for this audience, I thought one was very interesting, which is stakeholder pressure. So none of the respondents say that pressure has decreased. So there is urgency in the space, corporations, public affairs functions, specifically to act and get actively engaged. In social issues in a responsible manner. So over 90% of companies say pressure had increased significantly, 43% saying it increased significantly, and 48% saying somewhat in the past three years. And, the largest companies with revenue greater than 15 billion annually experienced the most pressure over the past three. Well, every company in the top revenue category reports an increase pressure to engage in social issues, 55% report it significantly. So I'll end with this, that we talked about stakeholder pressure, so we know it's there and we know companies are concerned and we know that they're acting out of concern, but I also want to make sure that, I bring up employees so employees are concerned with social issues in a 2019 Gartner's study  of over 30,000 people, worldwide 87% of employees said businesses should take a position on societal issues relevant to their business. And 74% said, businesses should take a position on issues, even if they aren't directly relevant to their business. [00:14:00] Take that how you please, but understanding that employees are voicing concern. Corporations, specifically the ones that we surveyed are feeling stakeholder pressure. Some may be from employees, but stakeholder pressure. So now that we've kind of gotten an overview of the data what's happening in the public affairs profession, as it relates to the business community, as it relates to public opinions, and as it relates to, corporations, I'm now going to dive into some frames. So at the Council, we were thinking a lot about social issue engagement. We had members come to us and say, well, I'm thinking about engaging in this social issue, but I'm not really sure how, or I'd really like to, amplify my sophistication on this issue, but I don't really know how, or is this appropriate for us to champion. And we know that many of our members are either pivoting or thinking about restructuring, their policies, programs, and procedures, to have a lens of diversity equity inclusion. Both could be responsive to the time, but because there is a collective call to action across business communities across the world to be more responsive to societal needs.

Tools for Engagement on Social Issues & Racial Equity

So we came up with this, diagram. So it's similar to a decision tree, I would say, but it's more of a continuum. So we were thinking about what it means to start off small and then just grow in your sophistication. So as a supporter, let's say you champion X issue, you would start to convene an internal committee. [00:16:00]  So maybe you grabbed someone from your comms team and someone from HR and a director, and y'all all get in a room and you think about it. And that's your internal committee and then you solicit employee input. So you're asking other employees how they feel. Then you're pulling stakeholders and you're coordinating with corporate peers. So you're asking others in the space, how they view your issue. Or the issue you want to champion your monitoring in prioritizing that she, which I think is critically important, understanding that this issue may look very different in Texas than how it does in Boston. You're updating your stakeholders and you're making general statements about the issues and how it relates to your company values and ensuring that your company values are in line with the issues. And then as the partner, you're engaging with employee resource groups. You've moved on from the supporter. And again, this is fluid. So I shouldn't say move on. You may be shifting. And so you have employee resource groups. So now you have the infrastructure in place to think about social issues, as it relates to diversity equity inclusion, you understand the data you're looking at engaging in something, in your holding either employee resource groups or town halls, then you're joining other companies and you're creating a post. And you're committing to supporting you're setting up systems for reporting. You're taking a clear position, which I think is also something to stop and harp on for one second. Is that when we think about, diversity, equity, and inclusion, when we think about social issues, whether it's an internal statement or an external commitment, taking a clear position insured. The trust-building that employees are looking for the trust-building that stakeholders want from you and, the reputation and brand management, knowing that you're not just hopping in and hopping out, you've done it with intentionality. So at the champion level, this is when you have a sophisticated function that can propel social issues. [00:18:00] So you've considered a key policy issue. You've backed it with resources, which is key. And you have a policy position in alignment with your company's activities. So you're committing to champion this for X community, and that is in line with your mission, your vision, the roots of your organization. What's on your way. You're taking leadership roles in coalitions and associations. So you're out front and people know that you've been doing this work because at the supporter and partner level, you've engaged in it with intentionality, you're providing regular updates to your stakeholder. So you're letting people know what are you doing in this space? And, your community, your CEO is a visible supporter of this. So, this is kind of how we're thinking about social issue engagement with a lens of diversity equity inclusion through, each one of these little bubbles. And I encourage all of you to reach out to me if you're interested in learning more. So something else I thought that was really important for this audience, as we think about diversity, equity inclusion and or diversity and inclusion and public affairs is this race equity tool. So the framework before was a little bit more on, when to engage and how to engage. But this race equity tool is a simple set of questions that guides the engagement. So specifically with the lens of race equity, starting with your vision and ending with how you're going to strengthen your work. So what is your vision for the future is how it starts off and it ends with how do you hold yourself accountable? And quickly going through this, but I just want to want you all to look at and see that, you know if you get to the accountability part of this, and you're like, ha actually I'm unable to hold myself accountable because something in the data isn't quite right, or I'm unable to hold myself accountable or hold us accountable to this because I can't meet our plan or we haven't figured out how to best partner with the community. [00:20:00] This is just like, the other stakeholder engagement framework. So it allows you to kind of go in and out and say, okay, if I messed up in the implementation phase, let's go back to the data phase and see, are we implementing the right strategies? Are we helping who we need to help? So, I encourage you all to look at this tool and to think really deeply about these questions when you're thinking about your policy priorities, when you're thinking about engaging in social issues, when you're thinking about internal policies around race equity, around inclusion because I think it's a really helpful guide or that's just kind of a pulse. Am I here is this right? Does this align with what we want to champion as an organization, as a GR team, as an HR team, et cetera? So now we've talked about tools. We've talked about what the survey data says or suggests, and I will get into a little bit about the value of partnerships. So I think oftentimes we think, okay, well I have someone doing this in X department, or I'm just going to lean on HR for everything. I want to encourage you all to do that, but also consider partnering with other folks in the space to help you think about race equity. Think about diversity, equity, inclusion for your policy priorities, for your advocacy strategy. Prior to joining the Public Affairs Council. I was at a place called Achieve Mission and we were doing more nonprofit consulting, but it was for, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we would help whole organizations, or we would help departments think about what race equity looks like, what it means to embed inclusion into your policies, into your structures. [00:22:00] What does it mean to create programs with the output being equity for. Not the output being, you know, X bill pass, but the output being equity. And then yes, the bill will pass or I'm hoping the bill will pass after I develop these advocacy strikes. So I think, so I offer this, these are just two examples of both independent consultants and institutes. So the Racial Equity Institute would do something like a full-on workshop, which is sometimes good. Just to make sure again, one of the key responses we got from our public affairs, survey. Our report that we did last spring was that folks wanted a cultural sense or folks really thought about embedding diversity, equity inclusion for the importance of cultural sensitivity to topic areas that doesn't happen overnight. And it's something that, you know, you need to work on through either partnering with a consultant or offering resources or training and things of the sort, but it can be fun. It can be light, but just understanding, that those types of sensitivities, types of, understanding where the gap areas are, come from training, come from partnerships, come from listening, learning, and reading. What folks in this space such as independent consultants and institutes have to say or are doing right now. So a little bit on. I think one of the critical points I'm so glad Quorum, was able to post me today is the importance of building community with other folks in the space who either are, have diversity, equity, and inclusion, in their jobs, roles, and responsibilities. I don't have it in their job roles and responsibilities at all, or just thinking about it and want to be active partners, want to be allies, want to be supporters of the work, because it takes a village and it's important to think through all these things, as you know, something that is only done through collective effort. [00:24:00] And just when we think we're done, we're not done. So this brings me to at the Council we are hosting our first social impact summit, which I know I was moving fast because we had a lot to cover, but this social impact summit, is set to take place on November 9th, virtually and it's centered on, three practice areas, social responsibility, sustainability and diversity equity inclusion. And we're really thinking about the intersections there because as public affairs professionals, we understand that we're thinking about right now, we're thinking about the client project. We're thinking about next year and later on after that. So we intentionally named the stride because we're really focused on what it means to be forward. Moving in this work, what it means to make continuous efforts, to ensure our physical environment. Our living environment, making sure that folks feel safe and comfortable, but also knowledgeable about all these issue areas. So we, are excited to be having sessions that are covering things such as employment to wellbeing. What it means to have a diverse legislative advocacy program, what it means to be an ally to your colleagues and, sessions will be on things like materiality for our sustainability folks and chip championing, charitable initiatives that directly relate to communities, for more of the traditional social responsibility work.

Questions

[00:26:00] D& I is so important at every level of the organization, hiring retention, communications, employee, community engagement, initiatives, any advice on or examples on how organizations have reviewed their efforts across internally facing and externally facing departments and avoid silos. No, that's a great question. So specifically for some of our members internally, if I think if I'm getting your question, right, how do you avoid silence when you're doing this work internally and externally, I will speak on a little bit about the consulting work I was doing before the Council in reality. What's important is that this work has been championed at the leadership level. So once senior leadership gets on board and says, okay, this is something that we want to do. This is something that is going to be grounded in the DNA of our organization. That kind of avoids this, the notion that there's. Or kind of helps with silos. I do think the work of how to avoid, kind of active exclusion of different groups who are at different maturity levels, when it comes to diversity, equity inclusion happens through facilitated conversations. It happens through trainings, it happens through manager one-on-ones where you can really process and talk about what this work looks like. And when it comes to externally facing. What really needs, what really should happen or what I used to advise clients when I was working as the importance of, ensuring that what you're doing internally is really reflective of what you're saying externally. So you aren't going out. And, you know, championing diversity equity inclusion by itself, but employees still feel like they don't, have a sense of belonging at the organization. [00:28:00]So I think the silos are avoided in two parts. One is when leadership is bought in and there is alignment on how to set up this work and is not just the immediate pivot. It's bringing folks along the way and meeting them where they are and then pushing them forward. And then externally it's being able to, ensure that your ducks are in order enough to be able to communicate honestly and appropriately to external-facing folks. So how are companies and organizations objectively measuring success in D&I, especially for resource allocation purposes? Is it based on the increase in diversity hiring increase in sales victory at the election booth? What are some ways that folks have been able to prove an ROI on their successes? That's a great question. It's a hard question because it is really dependent on the company on their goals. I will say. One of the things that we've seen is, having more diverse leadership. So being able to provide metrics on internal representational, diversity, being able to provide metrics on retention, but when it comes to success, I think success or, companies are focusing more on impact. So when you're thinking about what diversity, equity, inclusion looks like, you might create, your own framework or your own. Kind of goals or deliverables or things of the soar, based on your board or based on your shareholders, et cetera, et cetera. But, it's really hard to measure these type of initiatives one, because if you are a smaller organization, you might not have the infrastructure, but for larger organizations, yes, there are. [00:30:00] Diversity data metrics in place that I'm more and more so are likely to get mandated from the federal level. So folks are using things like that, but, for like a smaller association or, you know, a mid-level company, it really was Determined by what your leadership and what your human resource department deems, as, you know, the most critical metrics to measure. It could be retention. It could be, staff engagement. It could be, you know, the rate of involvement and your initiatives. So it could be how many bills you pass that have, you know, this lens. So it's depending on. But as of course, like, as you get larger, as your companies are larger, you are kind of basing yours off federal. One question here, about the survey where public affairs professionals said, um, racism was a larger problem. Did they offer any qualitative analysis on that? About what, what their thoughts were? Or was it just, like a yes or no? Kind of a question. So, Be able to likely dig in more of that later, but really, so we didn't provide as much anecdotal data around that. But yes, I believe in our report, we do have a couple of key examples and for anyone who wants to know more specifics or wants to read the longer report, I can provide a link. Can you talk a little bit more about the Stride conference? So who's like the target audience member for that. What are you hoping that they come away with at the end of that conference? [00:32:00] Sure. So for stride, we are building a newer community. So we're hoping that folks, regardless of where they sit in a second. We'll feel excited and comfortable coming to a conference where we're going to be championing diversity, equity, inclusion, sustainability, and social responsibility. Those three areas specifically, because we realize that not only are they intertwined, but they're where today's pressing issues lie. So, we will talk about everything that our members have told us and everything that, really. To, kind of engage in work towards, to better society. So we're going to be talking about like I mentioned, charitable initiatives, but we're also going to be talking and talking about legislative advocacy, and then we'll be talking about updated ESG reporting mandates because we realized that, they might come down while we're in our conference is key to companies who are larger, who are thinking about, what it means to actively participate in that area. So we're seeing deep into intersections around what it means to be engaged in social issues, what it means to, engage in social responsibility. During COVID recovery, post-racial reckoning, we're seeing, just even intersections and want to have a full and robust conversation about what it means to, kind of activate those juices in your work as public affairs person. Do you have any recommendations for folks who might be, lower-level not necessarily in leadership positions on how you get executive buy-in from someone who might be, you know, a little more cynical, right. So I think the best thing to do, or a couple of key things to do, when you're thinking about leadership buy-in and wanting to start something at your organization is really take time and have those conversations. [00:34:00] So talk with your manager and say, you know what? I don't think we have this here. But this is the data shows that this is happening, or I'd really like to have a deep conversation with how I can feel better supported in my time here, or I've lost a sense of belonging here and I think it's really important that leadership knows. And then I feel like that's a great room, or we would say in my previous organization, it's a great room to manage up, to grow in the organization, by offering those insights. You never want to feel like you're shouldering the burden of, you know, propelling the work on your own. But if you're in that position where it doesn't exist, it's a great place for you to, you know, help create the roadmap, help create that path, for, continued conversation for new initiatives for opportunity. And most likely leadership will be excited to hear that there are folks there that want to better the organization through championing those initiatives. You spoke a good bit about partnerships and one of the questions here is, we'd love to hear insight on the racial equity executive order for government agencies and how to align their plans with our work. Is that something you could see? We don't work that much. Not I, a little, little teeny bet dealt with that in my previous position, achieve mission before we went to dissolution. But what I will let you all know is that I was previously at independent sector and they did a full webinar, on that. So I think they'd be a really good resource to talk about how to find specific. That's a great point. Are there any other resources that you frequently refer to that you can tell our audience about? And so they can go read more? [00:36:00]Sure. So there are a lot of different places where I, kind of see what's happening in the space. So one of them is just reading, my newsletters every morning. So oftentimes. We aren't looking at, policies or looking at recent news, like the hell or things for through a lens of diversity equity inclusion, but it's really important to say or critical to see what, what folks were championing, and what policies and priorities they're engaging in. So just those types of, newsletters and new sites, but I'm also really interested and continue to listen to folks' podcasts. I love to hear a new podcast. So, Benevity has a new podcast that they just started. They're a gifting platform. And, they have a podcast centered on purpose and it was one of the podcasts that, you know, I never expected to, really stumble upon, but I listened to it. And then. Really talk about what it means to lead purpose-driven initiatives. So I think podcasts are a great way to, hear what's happening in the space while you're doing your work. So I listen to that. I also follow some practitioners on Twitter and Instagram and stuff in the space that I used to work with that I know are doing good work now.   [post_title] => Diversity & Inclusion in Public Affairs with the Public Affairs Council's Erica Harris [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => diversity-inclusion-in-public-affairs-with-the-public-affairs-councils-erica-harris [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-10-11 21:29:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-10-11 21:29:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.quorum.us/?post_type=resources&p=5769 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => resources [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 1 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 5769 [post_author] => 12 [post_date] => 2021-10-11 21:29:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-10-11 21:29:00 [post_content] =>

Hear the session from 2021 Wonk Week: Introduction [00:00:00] Today I'll be talking as you know about diversity and inclusion in public affairs. So quickly a little on the Council. The Public Affairs Council is the largest association dedicated to the public affairs profession, which includes policy comms, grassroots advocacy, government relations, PAC management, global public affairs, and CSR, sustainability, and DEI. Our 750 plus members range from large companies like Microsoft and Walmart to associations and nonprofits like the American Medical Association and AARP. So I'd like to first ground us in two definitions, given that this is the title, this is what we're talking about of diversity and equity. Diversity. And again,  we use the definitions provided by ASAE. So diversity refers to the composition of a group of people from any number of demographic backgrounds, identities, and the collective strength of their experiences, beliefs, values, skills, and perspectives. Diverse organizations are not by definition. Inclusive inclusion is the act of establishing policies, philosophies, practices, and procedures to ensure equal access to opportunities and resources to support individuals in contributing to an organization's success. Inclusive organizations are diverse at all levels and sandwich together. D&I refers to an organization's strategy, scope of work, and pledge to advancing diversity and inclusive excellence. So today I'm going to briefly touch on a couple surveys that we do at the Council. We have the privilege of again, having a very large member base. So we are able to pull big groupings of data, collect and disseminate that and touch on the biggest topics such as diversity, equity, inclusion amongst other things. [00:02:00]  So I'll briefly touch on a couple of surveys that we have out, and then I will briefly review a couple adaptable frameworks for you all. And then, one of which deals with engaging in social issues and the other is incorporating a race equity lens in your policy. Then I will quickly discuss the value of partnership and show a couple of samples and close by providing you with information. As Patrick alluded to for an exciting event, the Council is having with one of the pillars being centered on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

DEI & Public Affairs Survey Results

So on surveys, this past spring, the Council disseminated its first DEI trends and public affairs report. This survey, or this report, looked at the landscape of diversity, equity, inclusion in public affairs. We fielded from February 9th through March 5th. We sent it out to 1100 public affairs executives and we received a usable sample of 120. So here's who responded a majority of the responses or the respondents held or hold, leadership level positions with 61 at the VP level or higher. These respondents also have extensive experience in the public affairs profession with 82% reporting at at least 10 years of professional experience in roughly half with 26 of this pie corporations account for the majority of the sample with 32 being from large corporations and 21% being from small to midsize. There's also a good representation from trades and professional societies at 26% and consulting firms, law firms and service providers at 15%. So, what do we see? We saw there's room for growth. One of the questions we asked respondents was to describe the racial and ethnic diversity of their public affairs function compared to the profession as a whole. [00:04:00] And what did we find? We found out that there was alignment between the perceived diversity of folks, public affairs functions and the actual diversity of their function. So what do we mean by that? For folks that reported having low diversity, they did in fact have low diversity. What the average diversity composition being at about 3%, with those who perceived their function as having average diversity, they had an actual diversity of about 14% in those who perceive their function as having well above average diversity, it had an actual diversity measurement of about 51. And what that said to us was, okay, people are looking at their public affairs function and assessing the diversity of it. And they are perceiving their function to be as it is in reality and not how they think it should be or how it could be and they were right and believing that their public affairs function was lacking in diversity. And another question we asked was, do you believe that the lack of diversity in public affairs is basically a barrier to entry. And what we saw is that 61% of respondents felt that the lack of diversity discourages entry into them. So on the same theme of perceived diversity, we asked respondents to describe the racial and ethnic diversity of the public affairs field to someone not in the profession. And respondents gave the profession 30 on a scale of zero to 100 with zero being not diverse at all and a hundred being very diverse. And again, that's up to us. Okay. We heard that it's a barrier entry, but that we also see that, you know, this, there is like very low diversity in general. So then we looked at, composition as I just talked about, and we wanted to learn more about the incorporated. [00:06:00] So it is diversity equity inclusion incorporate into your strategic plan. And I should pause to say that we asked a lot of other questions, but since I am covering two other surveys, I just wanted to hit on the top line. So you get a good idea of the landscape of diversity equity inclusion in public affairs. So, for the majority of respondents, which is an exciting thing to see, 59% reported that they have incorporated diversity, equity, and inclusion into a company-wide strategy 10% reported that while they might not have diversity, equity, inclusion incorporated into a company-wide strategic plan, they do have diversity equity inclusion incorporated into a specific department plan i.e. comms, GR, something of the sort, 21%, which has also, hopeful metric, haven't, but they're considered. 7% say no, and 3% actually are unaware. They don't know. So that was interesting for us to see. So, I'm about to close out this survey and dig into another one, but this we saw what are some of them, we asked folks, what are the, some of the top benefits of realizing diversity, equity, inclusion, and publication. And as public affairs professionals, you know, we hit on a bunch of different things. It could be external relations, internal relations, communications, et cetera. And, the most popular answer was cultural sensitivity when advocating on difficult issues. So companies and public affairs leaders responded that they want to be able to both talk the talk and walk the walk. They want to be culturally sensitive, culturally conscious. They're on the Hill or when they're in state houses, when they're advocating on issues, coming in at a strong second is stronger relationships with stakeholders and potential allies. So the idea that, champion diversity equity inclusion is not only important to your business, but it's important for trust-building for brand building for brand rapidity, improved employee morale. So that ties back into diversity and inclusion. When I was talking about those definitions earlier, the idea that companies, basically want their employees to feel a sense of belonging and feel welcomed and feel like they can bring their whole selves to work. And part of that is realizing diversity equity. [00:08:00] And then the last two go hand in hand, stronger employee support for organizations, political engagement. So if you are actualizing diversity, equity and inclusion, feeling like your organism, you're comfortable with how your organization is engaging in political activities and better relationships with elected officials. As we know this Congress is the most diverse in history. So ensuring that you as a company, are realizing that and, being responsive to the changing composition of the United States and of our elections. So that's that survey. I will say we are doing that survey, on an annual basis now, but that was our first one. And we were really excited to see those findings. And I provided that survey first to kind of ground us on the public affairs late. And now I will provide some information and data around public opinion.

Public Opinion on Business and Society

So, September 2nd, through the sixth, we partnered with Morning Consult to provide an in-depth look at us, public opinion on issues intersecting with business government and society. And these issues include growing levels of public distrust, COVID-19 vaccine mandates, concerns about democracy, the persistence of racism in America, which I'll dive in, and the doubts about the integrity of the news media. So this chart provides something that I think is really important. We saw that public affairs functions are lacking in diversity and folks are reporting that, but this public opinion survey shows that many folks believe that racism is an issue in a persistent issue. [00:10:00] And 40% of respondents responded that America is becoming more racist and 39% responded neither more nor less, but acknowledging that racism is persistent and 13% said less racist and 18, 8%. So again, harping on, a majority of respondents consider racism to be somewhat over a serious problem or a very serious problem, meaning, champion diversity, equity inclusion, it's critically important. And then we also looked at a breakdown by party. So we saw that 91% of Democrats believe racism is somewhat or a very serious problem. Republicans also widely believe that racism is somewhat of a serious problem at 46% and 49% consider it not too serious or not serious.

How are Companies Engaging on Social Issues

So one more survey and then I will dig into the other things I'm going to talk about. But this one I actually think is really important. So we looked at how our member base, so the whole public affairs community views, the public affairs landscape. Then we just looked at public opinion. And now we're going to look at corporations engaging on social issues. So the council, in July conducted a survey of major corporations to better understand social issue involvement. We synthesize to a wide range of industries over a thousand privately and publicly traded companies. And the survey we received about 82 companies providing us with usable results. And the survey respondents represent many different industry sectors. The largest are manufacturing and, diversified financial services and insurance. And this survey was to better understand social issue involvement. So how are companies engaging in social issues? And we looked at stakeholder pressure, which I will specifically dive into which issues companies are advocating for. [00:12:00]What specific actions have they taken and how have these practices changed over the past five years? And some of the critical findings where companies are taking a stand on civil rights. Issues involving race issues involving gender and sexual orientation equality, much more frequently than other categories of issues and dating back to 2016. I will say that, I didn't include this here, but one of the top issues that companies were really concerned with in 2016 was around sustainability, but, civil rights has superseded that now and over 80% of the companies, are currently engaged in these causes. So for a variety of reasons, but for this audience, I thought one was very interesting, which is stakeholder pressure. So none of the respondents say that pressure has decreased. So there is urgency in the space, corporations, public affairs functions, specifically to act and get actively engaged. In social issues in a responsible manner. So over 90% of companies say pressure had increased significantly, 43% saying it increased significantly, and 48% saying somewhat in the past three years. And, the largest companies with revenue greater than 15 billion annually experienced the most pressure over the past three. Well, every company in the top revenue category reports an increase pressure to engage in social issues, 55% report it significantly. So I'll end with this, that we talked about stakeholder pressure, so we know it's there and we know companies are concerned and we know that they're acting out of concern, but I also want to make sure that, I bring up employees so employees are concerned with social issues in a 2019 Gartner's study  of over 30,000 people, worldwide 87% of employees said businesses should take a position on societal issues relevant to their business. And 74% said, businesses should take a position on issues, even if they aren't directly relevant to their business. [00:14:00] Take that how you please, but understanding that employees are voicing concern. Corporations, specifically the ones that we surveyed are feeling stakeholder pressure. Some may be from employees, but stakeholder pressure. So now that we've kind of gotten an overview of the data what's happening in the public affairs profession, as it relates to the business community, as it relates to public opinions, and as it relates to, corporations, I'm now going to dive into some frames. So at the Council, we were thinking a lot about social issue engagement. We had members come to us and say, well, I'm thinking about engaging in this social issue, but I'm not really sure how, or I'd really like to, amplify my sophistication on this issue, but I don't really know how, or is this appropriate for us to champion. And we know that many of our members are either pivoting or thinking about restructuring, their policies, programs, and procedures, to have a lens of diversity equity inclusion. Both could be responsive to the time, but because there is a collective call to action across business communities across the world to be more responsive to societal needs.

Tools for Engagement on Social Issues & Racial Equity

So we came up with this, diagram. So it's similar to a decision tree, I would say, but it's more of a continuum. So we were thinking about what it means to start off small and then just grow in your sophistication. So as a supporter, let's say you champion X issue, you would start to convene an internal committee. [00:16:00]  So maybe you grabbed someone from your comms team and someone from HR and a director, and y'all all get in a room and you think about it. And that's your internal committee and then you solicit employee input. So you're asking other employees how they feel. Then you're pulling stakeholders and you're coordinating with corporate peers. So you're asking others in the space, how they view your issue. Or the issue you want to champion your monitoring in prioritizing that she, which I think is critically important, understanding that this issue may look very different in Texas than how it does in Boston. You're updating your stakeholders and you're making general statements about the issues and how it relates to your company values and ensuring that your company values are in line with the issues. And then as the partner, you're engaging with employee resource groups. You've moved on from the supporter. And again, this is fluid. So I shouldn't say move on. You may be shifting. And so you have employee resource groups. So now you have the infrastructure in place to think about social issues, as it relates to diversity equity inclusion, you understand the data you're looking at engaging in something, in your holding either employee resource groups or town halls, then you're joining other companies and you're creating a post. And you're committing to supporting you're setting up systems for reporting. You're taking a clear position, which I think is also something to stop and harp on for one second. Is that when we think about, diversity, equity, and inclusion, when we think about social issues, whether it's an internal statement or an external commitment, taking a clear position insured. The trust-building that employees are looking for the trust-building that stakeholders want from you and, the reputation and brand management, knowing that you're not just hopping in and hopping out, you've done it with intentionality. So at the champion level, this is when you have a sophisticated function that can propel social issues. [00:18:00] So you've considered a key policy issue. You've backed it with resources, which is key. And you have a policy position in alignment with your company's activities. So you're committing to champion this for X community, and that is in line with your mission, your vision, the roots of your organization. What's on your way. You're taking leadership roles in coalitions and associations. So you're out front and people know that you've been doing this work because at the supporter and partner level, you've engaged in it with intentionality, you're providing regular updates to your stakeholder. So you're letting people know what are you doing in this space? And, your community, your CEO is a visible supporter of this. So, this is kind of how we're thinking about social issue engagement with a lens of diversity equity inclusion through, each one of these little bubbles. And I encourage all of you to reach out to me if you're interested in learning more. So something else I thought that was really important for this audience, as we think about diversity, equity inclusion and or diversity and inclusion and public affairs is this race equity tool. So the framework before was a little bit more on, when to engage and how to engage. But this race equity tool is a simple set of questions that guides the engagement. So specifically with the lens of race equity, starting with your vision and ending with how you're going to strengthen your work. So what is your vision for the future is how it starts off and it ends with how do you hold yourself accountable? And quickly going through this, but I just want to want you all to look at and see that, you know if you get to the accountability part of this, and you're like, ha actually I'm unable to hold myself accountable because something in the data isn't quite right, or I'm unable to hold myself accountable or hold us accountable to this because I can't meet our plan or we haven't figured out how to best partner with the community. [00:20:00] This is just like, the other stakeholder engagement framework. So it allows you to kind of go in and out and say, okay, if I messed up in the implementation phase, let's go back to the data phase and see, are we implementing the right strategies? Are we helping who we need to help? So, I encourage you all to look at this tool and to think really deeply about these questions when you're thinking about your policy priorities, when you're thinking about engaging in social issues, when you're thinking about internal policies around race equity, around inclusion because I think it's a really helpful guide or that's just kind of a pulse. Am I here is this right? Does this align with what we want to champion as an organization, as a GR team, as an HR team, et cetera? So now we've talked about tools. We've talked about what the survey data says or suggests, and I will get into a little bit about the value of partnerships. So I think oftentimes we think, okay, well I have someone doing this in X department, or I'm just going to lean on HR for everything. I want to encourage you all to do that, but also consider partnering with other folks in the space to help you think about race equity. Think about diversity, equity, inclusion for your policy priorities, for your advocacy strategy. Prior to joining the Public Affairs Council. I was at a place called Achieve Mission and we were doing more nonprofit consulting, but it was for, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we would help whole organizations, or we would help departments think about what race equity looks like, what it means to embed inclusion into your policies, into your structures. [00:22:00] What does it mean to create programs with the output being equity for. Not the output being, you know, X bill pass, but the output being equity. And then yes, the bill will pass or I'm hoping the bill will pass after I develop these advocacy strikes. So I think, so I offer this, these are just two examples of both independent consultants and institutes. So the Racial Equity Institute would do something like a full-on workshop, which is sometimes good. Just to make sure again, one of the key responses we got from our public affairs, survey. Our report that we did last spring was that folks wanted a cultural sense or folks really thought about embedding diversity, equity inclusion for the importance of cultural sensitivity to topic areas that doesn't happen overnight. And it's something that, you know, you need to work on through either partnering with a consultant or offering resources or training and things of the sort, but it can be fun. It can be light, but just understanding, that those types of sensitivities, types of, understanding where the gap areas are, come from training, come from partnerships, come from listening, learning, and reading. What folks in this space such as independent consultants and institutes have to say or are doing right now. So a little bit on. I think one of the critical points I'm so glad Quorum, was able to post me today is the importance of building community with other folks in the space who either are, have diversity, equity, and inclusion, in their jobs, roles, and responsibilities. I don't have it in their job roles and responsibilities at all, or just thinking about it and want to be active partners, want to be allies, want to be supporters of the work, because it takes a village and it's important to think through all these things, as you know, something that is only done through collective effort. [00:24:00] And just when we think we're done, we're not done. So this brings me to at the Council we are hosting our first social impact summit, which I know I was moving fast because we had a lot to cover, but this social impact summit, is set to take place on November 9th, virtually and it's centered on, three practice areas, social responsibility, sustainability and diversity equity inclusion. And we're really thinking about the intersections there because as public affairs professionals, we understand that we're thinking about right now, we're thinking about the client project. We're thinking about next year and later on after that. So we intentionally named the stride because we're really focused on what it means to be forward. Moving in this work, what it means to make continuous efforts, to ensure our physical environment. Our living environment, making sure that folks feel safe and comfortable, but also knowledgeable about all these issue areas. So we, are excited to be having sessions that are covering things such as employment to wellbeing. What it means to have a diverse legislative advocacy program, what it means to be an ally to your colleagues and, sessions will be on things like materiality for our sustainability folks and chip championing, charitable initiatives that directly relate to communities, for more of the traditional social responsibility work.

Questions

[00:26:00] D& I is so important at every level of the organization, hiring retention, communications, employee, community engagement, initiatives, any advice on or examples on how organizations have reviewed their efforts across internally facing and externally facing departments and avoid silos. No, that's a great question. So specifically for some of our members internally, if I think if I'm getting your question, right, how do you avoid silence when you're doing this work internally and externally, I will speak on a little bit about the consulting work I was doing before the Council in reality. What's important is that this work has been championed at the leadership level. So once senior leadership gets on board and says, okay, this is something that we want to do. This is something that is going to be grounded in the DNA of our organization. That kind of avoids this, the notion that there's. Or kind of helps with silos. I do think the work of how to avoid, kind of active exclusion of different groups who are at different maturity levels, when it comes to diversity, equity inclusion happens through facilitated conversations. It happens through trainings, it happens through manager one-on-ones where you can really process and talk about what this work looks like. And when it comes to externally facing. What really needs, what really should happen or what I used to advise clients when I was working as the importance of, ensuring that what you're doing internally is really reflective of what you're saying externally. So you aren't going out. And, you know, championing diversity equity inclusion by itself, but employees still feel like they don't, have a sense of belonging at the organization. [00:28:00]So I think the silos are avoided in two parts. One is when leadership is bought in and there is alignment on how to set up this work and is not just the immediate pivot. It's bringing folks along the way and meeting them where they are and then pushing them forward. And then externally it's being able to, ensure that your ducks are in order enough to be able to communicate honestly and appropriately to external-facing folks. So how are companies and organizations objectively measuring success in D&I, especially for resource allocation purposes? Is it based on the increase in diversity hiring increase in sales victory at the election booth? What are some ways that folks have been able to prove an ROI on their successes? That's a great question. It's a hard question because it is really dependent on the company on their goals. I will say. One of the things that we've seen is, having more diverse leadership. So being able to provide metrics on internal representational, diversity, being able to provide metrics on retention, but when it comes to success, I think success or, companies are focusing more on impact. So when you're thinking about what diversity, equity, inclusion looks like, you might create, your own framework or your own. Kind of goals or deliverables or things of the soar, based on your board or based on your shareholders, et cetera, et cetera. But, it's really hard to measure these type of initiatives one, because if you are a smaller organization, you might not have the infrastructure, but for larger organizations, yes, there are. [00:30:00] Diversity data metrics in place that I'm more and more so are likely to get mandated from the federal level. So folks are using things like that, but, for like a smaller association or, you know, a mid-level company, it really was Determined by what your leadership and what your human resource department deems, as, you know, the most critical metrics to measure. It could be retention. It could be, staff engagement. It could be, you know, the rate of involvement and your initiatives. So it could be how many bills you pass that have, you know, this lens. So it's depending on. But as of course, like, as you get larger, as your companies are larger, you are kind of basing yours off federal. One question here, about the survey where public affairs professionals said, um, racism was a larger problem. Did they offer any qualitative analysis on that? About what, what their thoughts were? Or was it just, like a yes or no? Kind of a question. So, Be able to likely dig in more of that later, but really, so we didn't provide as much anecdotal data around that. But yes, I believe in our report, we do have a couple of key examples and for anyone who wants to know more specifics or wants to read the longer report, I can provide a link. Can you talk a little bit more about the Stride conference? So who's like the target audience member for that. What are you hoping that they come away with at the end of that conference? [00:32:00] Sure. So for stride, we are building a newer community. So we're hoping that folks, regardless of where they sit in a second. We'll feel excited and comfortable coming to a conference where we're going to be championing diversity, equity, inclusion, sustainability, and social responsibility. Those three areas specifically, because we realize that not only are they intertwined, but they're where today's pressing issues lie. So, we will talk about everything that our members have told us and everything that, really. To, kind of engage in work towards, to better society. So we're going to be talking about like I mentioned, charitable initiatives, but we're also going to be talking and talking about legislative advocacy, and then we'll be talking about updated ESG reporting mandates because we realized that, they might come down while we're in our conference is key to companies who are larger, who are thinking about, what it means to actively participate in that area. So we're seeing deep into intersections around what it means to be engaged in social issues, what it means to, engage in social responsibility. During COVID recovery, post-racial reckoning, we're seeing, just even intersections and want to have a full and robust conversation about what it means to, kind of activate those juices in your work as public affairs person. Do you have any recommendations for folks who might be, lower-level not necessarily in leadership positions on how you get executive buy-in from someone who might be, you know, a little more cynical, right. So I think the best thing to do, or a couple of key things to do, when you're thinking about leadership buy-in and wanting to start something at your organization is really take time and have those conversations. [00:34:00] So talk with your manager and say, you know what? I don't think we have this here. But this is the data shows that this is happening, or I'd really like to have a deep conversation with how I can feel better supported in my time here, or I've lost a sense of belonging here and I think it's really important that leadership knows. And then I feel like that's a great room, or we would say in my previous organization, it's a great room to manage up, to grow in the organization, by offering those insights. You never want to feel like you're shouldering the burden of, you know, propelling the work on your own. But if you're in that position where it doesn't exist, it's a great place for you to, you know, help create the roadmap, help create that path, for, continued conversation for new initiatives for opportunity. And most likely leadership will be excited to hear that there are folks there that want to better the organization through championing those initiatives. You spoke a good bit about partnerships and one of the questions here is, we'd love to hear insight on the racial equity executive order for government agencies and how to align their plans with our work. Is that something you could see? We don't work that much. Not I, a little, little teeny bet dealt with that in my previous position, achieve mission before we went to dissolution. But what I will let you all know is that I was previously at independent sector and they did a full webinar, on that. So I think they'd be a really good resource to talk about how to find specific. That's a great point. Are there any other resources that you frequently refer to that you can tell our audience about? And so they can go read more? [00:36:00]Sure. So there are a lot of different places where I, kind of see what's happening in the space. So one of them is just reading, my newsletters every morning. So oftentimes. We aren't looking at, policies or looking at recent news, like the hell or things for through a lens of diversity equity inclusion, but it's really important to say or critical to see what, what folks were championing, and what policies and priorities they're engaging in. So just those types of, newsletters and new sites, but I'm also really interested and continue to listen to folks' podcasts. I love to hear a new podcast. So, Benevity has a new podcast that they just started. They're a gifting platform. And, they have a podcast centered on purpose and it was one of the podcasts that, you know, I never expected to, really stumble upon, but I listened to it. And then. Really talk about what it means to lead purpose-driven initiatives. So I think podcasts are a great way to, hear what's happening in the space while you're doing your work. So I listen to that. I also follow some practitioners on Twitter and Instagram and stuff in the space that I used to work with that I know are doing good work now.   [post_title] => Diversity & Inclusion in Public Affairs with the Public Affairs Council's Erica Harris [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => diversity-inclusion-in-public-affairs-with-the-public-affairs-councils-erica-harris [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-10-11 21:29:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-10-11 21:29:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.quorum.us/?post_type=resources&p=5769 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => resources [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [comment_count] => 0 [current_comment] => -1 [found_posts] => 1 [max_num_pages] => 0 [max_num_comment_pages] => 0 [is_single] => 1 [is_preview] => [is_page] => [is_archive] => [is_date] => [is_year] => [is_month] => [is_day] => [is_time] => [is_author] => [is_category] => [is_tag] => [is_tax] => [is_search] => [is_feed] => [is_comment_feed] => [is_trackback] => [is_home] => [is_privacy_policy] => [is_404] => [is_embed] => [is_paged] => [is_admin] => [is_attachment] => [is_singular] => 1 [is_robots] => [is_favicon] => [is_posts_page] => [is_post_type_archive] => [query_vars_hash:WP_Query:private] => 626f770fa7a6407e2140de399b7e9524 [query_vars_changed:WP_Query:private] => [thumbnails_cached] => [stopwords:WP_Query:private] => [compat_fields:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => query_vars_hash [1] => query_vars_changed ) [compat_methods:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => init_query_flags [1] => parse_tax_query ) )
!!! 5769
Info

Diversity & Inclusion in Public Affairs with the Public Affairs Council’s Erica Harris

Diversity & Inclusion in Public Affairs with the Public Affairs Council’s Erica Harris

Hear the session from 2021 Wonk Week:

Introduction

[00:00:00] Today I’ll be talking as you know about diversity and inclusion in public affairs. So quickly a little on the Council. The Public Affairs Council is the largest association dedicated to the public affairs profession, which includes policy comms, grassroots advocacy, government relations, PAC management, global public affairs, and CSR, sustainability, and DEI. Our 750 plus members range from large companies like Microsoft and Walmart to associations and nonprofits like the American Medical Association and AARP.

So I’d like to first ground us in two definitions, given that this is the title, this is what we’re talking about of diversity and equity. Diversity. And again,  we use the definitions provided by ASAE. So diversity refers to the composition of a group of people from any number of demographic backgrounds, identities, and the collective strength of their experiences, beliefs, values, skills, and perspectives.

Diverse organizations are not by definition. Inclusive inclusion is the act of establishing policies, philosophies, practices, and procedures to ensure equal access to opportunities and resources to support individuals in contributing to an organization’s success. Inclusive organizations are diverse at all levels and sandwich together.

D&I refers to an organization’s strategy, scope of work, and pledge to advancing diversity and inclusive excellence. So today I’m going to briefly touch on a couple surveys that we do at the Council. We have the privilege of again, having a very large member base. So we are able to pull big groupings of data, collect and disseminate that and touch on the biggest topics such as diversity, equity, inclusion amongst other things.

[00:02:00]  So I’ll briefly touch on a couple of surveys that we have out, and then I will briefly review a couple adaptable frameworks for you all. And then, one of which deals with engaging in social issues and the other is incorporating a race equity lens in your policy. Then I will quickly discuss the value of partnership and show a couple of samples and close by providing you with information. As Patrick alluded to for an exciting event, the Council is having with one of the pillars being centered on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

DEI & Public Affairs Survey Results

So on surveys, this past spring, the Council disseminated its first DEI trends and public affairs report. This survey, or this report, looked at the landscape of diversity, equity, inclusion in public affairs. We fielded from February 9th through March 5th. We sent it out to 1100 public affairs executives and we received a usable sample of 120. So here’s who responded a majority of the responses or the respondents held or hold, leadership level positions with 61 at the VP level or higher.

These respondents also have extensive experience in the public affairs profession with 82% reporting at at least 10 years of professional experience in roughly half with 26 of this pie corporations account for the majority of the sample with 32 being from large corporations and 21% being from small to midsize. There’s also a good representation from trades and professional societies at 26% and consulting firms, law firms and service providers at 15%.

So, what do we see? We saw there’s room for growth. One of the questions we asked respondents was to describe the racial and ethnic diversity of their public affairs function compared to the profession as a whole.

[00:04:00] And what did we find? We found out that there was alignment between the perceived diversity of folks, public affairs functions and the actual diversity of their function. So what do we mean by that? For folks that reported having low diversity, they did in fact have low diversity. What the average diversity composition being at about 3%, with those who perceived their function as having average diversity, they had an actual diversity of about 14% in those who perceive their function as having well above average diversity, it had an actual diversity measurement of about 51.

And what that said to us was, okay, people are looking at their public affairs function and assessing the diversity of it. And they are perceiving their function to be as it is in reality and not how they think it should be or how it could be and they were right and believing that their public affairs function was lacking in diversity.

And another question we asked was, do you believe that the lack of diversity in public affairs is basically a barrier to entry. And what we saw is that 61% of respondents felt that the lack of diversity discourages entry into them. So on the same theme of perceived diversity, we asked respondents to describe the racial and ethnic diversity of the public affairs field to someone not in the profession.

And respondents gave the profession 30 on a scale of zero to 100 with zero being not diverse at all and a hundred being very diverse. And again, that’s up to us. Okay. We heard that it’s a barrier entry, but that we also see that, you know, this, there is like very low diversity in general. So then we looked at, composition as I just talked about, and we wanted to learn more about the incorporated.

[00:06:00] So it is diversity equity inclusion incorporate into your strategic plan. And I should pause to say that we asked a lot of other questions, but since I am covering two other surveys, I just wanted to hit on the top line. So you get a good idea of the landscape of diversity equity inclusion in public affairs.

So, for the majority of respondents, which is an exciting thing to see, 59% reported that they have incorporated diversity, equity, and inclusion into a company-wide strategy 10% reported that while they might not have diversity, equity, inclusion incorporated into a company-wide strategic plan, they do have diversity equity inclusion incorporated into a specific department plan i.e. comms, GR, something of the sort, 21%, which has also, hopeful metric, haven’t, but they’re considered. 7% say no, and 3% actually are unaware. They don’t know. So that was interesting for us to see. So, I’m about to close out this survey and dig into another one, but this we saw what are some of them, we asked folks, what are the, some of the top benefits of realizing diversity, equity, inclusion, and publication.

And as public affairs professionals, you know, we hit on a bunch of different things. It could be external relations, internal relations, communications, et cetera. And, the most popular answer was cultural sensitivity when advocating on difficult issues. So companies and public affairs leaders responded that they want to be able to both talk the talk and walk the walk.

They want to be culturally sensitive, culturally conscious. They’re on the Hill or when they’re in state houses, when they’re advocating on issues, coming in at a strong second is stronger relationships with stakeholders and potential allies. So the idea that, champion diversity equity inclusion is not only important to your business, but it’s important for trust-building for brand building for brand rapidity, improved employee morale. So that ties back into diversity and inclusion. When I was talking about those definitions earlier, the idea that companies, basically want their employees to feel a sense of belonging and feel welcomed and feel like they can bring their whole selves to work. And part of that is realizing diversity equity.

[00:08:00] And then the last two go hand in hand, stronger employee support for organizations, political engagement. So if you are actualizing diversity, equity and inclusion, feeling like your organism, you’re comfortable with how your organization is engaging in political activities and better relationships with elected officials. As we know this Congress is the most diverse in history. So ensuring that you as a company, are realizing that and, being responsive to the changing composition of the United States and of our elections.

So that’s that survey. I will say we are doing that survey, on an annual basis now, but that was our first one. And we were really excited to see those findings. And I provided that survey first to kind of ground us on the public affairs late. And now I will provide some information and data around public opinion.

Public Opinion on Business and Society

So, September 2nd, through the sixth, we partnered with Morning Consult to provide an in-depth look at us, public opinion on issues intersecting with business government and society. And these issues include growing levels of public distrust, COVID-19 vaccine mandates, concerns about democracy, the persistence of racism in America, which I’ll dive in,

and the doubts about the integrity of the news media. So this chart provides something that I think is really important. We saw that public affairs functions are lacking in diversity and folks are reporting that, but this public opinion survey shows that many folks believe that racism is an issue in a persistent issue.

[00:10:00] And 40% of respondents responded that America is becoming more racist and 39% responded neither more nor less, but acknowledging that racism is persistent and 13% said less racist and 18, 8%. So again, harping on, a majority of respondents consider racism to be somewhat over a serious problem or a very serious problem, meaning, champion diversity, equity inclusion, it’s critically important.

And then we also looked at a breakdown by party. So we saw that 91% of Democrats believe racism is somewhat or a very serious problem. Republicans also widely believe that racism is somewhat of a serious problem at 46% and 49% consider it not too serious or not serious.

How are Companies Engaging on Social Issues

So one more survey and then I will dig into the other things I’m going to talk about. But this one I actually think is really important. So we looked at how our member base, so the whole public affairs community views, the public affairs landscape. Then we just looked at public opinion. And now we’re going to look at corporations engaging on social issues.

So the council, in July conducted a survey of major corporations to better understand social issue involvement. We synthesize to a wide range of industries over a thousand privately and publicly traded companies. And the survey we received about 82 companies providing us with usable results. And the survey respondents represent many different industry sectors.

The largest are manufacturing and, diversified financial services and insurance. And this survey was to better understand social issue involvement. So how are companies engaging in social issues? And we looked at stakeholder pressure, which I will specifically dive into which issues companies are advocating for.

[00:12:00]What specific actions have they taken and how have these practices changed over the past five years? And some of the critical findings where companies are taking a stand on civil rights. Issues involving race issues involving gender and sexual orientation equality, much more frequently than other categories of issues and dating back to 2016.

I will say that, I didn’t include this here, but one of the top issues that companies were really concerned with in 2016 was around sustainability, but, civil rights has superseded that now and over 80% of the companies, are currently engaged in these causes. So for a variety of reasons, but for this audience, I thought one was very interesting, which is stakeholder pressure.

So none of the respondents say that pressure has decreased. So there is urgency in the space, corporations, public affairs functions, specifically to act and get actively engaged. In social issues in a responsible manner. So over 90% of companies say pressure had increased significantly, 43% saying it increased significantly, and 48% saying somewhat in the past three years.

And, the largest companies with revenue greater than 15 billion annually experienced the most pressure over the past three. Well, every company in the top revenue category reports an increase pressure to engage in social issues, 55% report it significantly. So I’ll end with this, that we talked about stakeholder pressure, so we know it’s there and we know companies are concerned and we know that they’re acting out of concern, but I also want to make sure that, I bring up employees so employees are concerned with social issues in a 2019 Gartner’s study  of over 30,000 people, worldwide 87% of employees said businesses should take a position on societal issues relevant to their business. And 74% said, businesses should take a position on issues, even if they aren’t directly relevant to their business.

[00:14:00] Take that how you please, but understanding that employees are voicing concern. Corporations, specifically the ones that we surveyed are feeling stakeholder pressure. Some may be from employees, but stakeholder pressure. So now that we’ve kind of gotten an overview of the data what’s happening in the public affairs profession, as it relates to the business community, as it relates to public opinions, and as it relates to, corporations, I’m now going to dive into some frames.

So at the Council, we were thinking a lot about social issue engagement. We had members come to us and say, well, I’m thinking about engaging in this social issue, but I’m not really sure how, or I’d really like to, amplify my sophistication on this issue, but I don’t really know how, or is this appropriate for us to champion.

And we know that many of our members are either pivoting or thinking about restructuring, their policies, programs, and procedures, to have a lens of diversity equity inclusion. Both could be responsive to the time, but because there is a collective call to action across business communities across the world to be more responsive to societal needs.

Tools for Engagement on Social Issues & Racial Equity

So we came up with this, diagram. So it’s similar to a decision tree, I would say, but it’s more of a continuum. So we were thinking about what it means to start off small and then just grow in your sophistication. So as a supporter, let’s say you champion X issue, you would start to convene an internal committee.

[00:16:00]  So maybe you grabbed someone from your comms team and someone from HR and a director, and y’all all get in a room and you think about it. And that’s your internal committee and then you solicit employee input. So you’re asking other employees how they feel. Then you’re pulling stakeholders and you’re coordinating with corporate peers.

So you’re asking others in the space, how they view your issue. Or the issue you want to champion your monitoring in prioritizing that she, which I think is critically important, understanding that this issue may look very different in Texas than how it does in Boston. You’re updating your stakeholders and you’re making general statements about the issues and how it relates to your company values and ensuring that your company values are in line with the issues.

And then as the partner, you’re engaging with employee resource groups. You’ve moved on from the supporter. And again, this is fluid. So I shouldn’t say move on. You may be shifting. And so you have employee resource groups. So now you have the infrastructure in place to think about social issues, as it relates to diversity equity inclusion, you understand the data you’re looking at engaging in something, in your holding either employee resource groups or town halls, then you’re joining other companies and you’re creating a post.

And you’re committing to supporting you’re setting up systems for reporting. You’re taking a clear position, which I think is also something to stop and harp on for one second. Is that when we think about, diversity, equity, and inclusion, when we think about social issues, whether it’s an internal statement or an external commitment, taking a clear position insured.

The trust-building that employees are looking for the trust-building that stakeholders want from you and, the reputation and brand management, knowing that you’re not just hopping in and hopping out, you’ve done it with intentionality. So at the champion level, this is when you have a sophisticated function that can propel social issues.

[00:18:00] So you’ve considered a key policy issue. You’ve backed it with resources, which is key. And you have a policy position in alignment with your company’s activities. So you’re committing to champion this for X community, and that is in line with your mission, your vision, the roots of your organization.

What’s on your way. You’re taking leadership roles in coalitions and associations. So you’re out front and people know that you’ve been doing this work because at the supporter and partner level, you’ve engaged in it with intentionality, you’re providing regular updates to your stakeholder. So you’re letting people know what are you doing in this space?

And, your community, your CEO is a visible supporter of this. So, this is kind of how we’re thinking about social issue engagement with a lens of diversity equity inclusion through, each one of these little bubbles. And I encourage all of you to reach out to me if you’re interested in learning more.

So something else I thought that was really important for this audience, as we think about diversity, equity inclusion and or diversity and inclusion and public affairs is this race equity tool. So the framework before was a little bit more on, when to engage and how to engage. But this race equity tool is a simple set of questions that guides the engagement.

So specifically with the lens of race equity, starting with your vision and ending with how you’re going to strengthen your work. So what is your vision for the future is how it starts off and it ends with how do you hold yourself accountable? And quickly going through this, but I just want to want you all to look at and see that, you know if you get to the accountability part of this, and you’re like, ha actually I’m unable to hold myself accountable because something in the data isn’t quite right, or I’m unable to hold myself accountable or hold us accountable to this because I can’t meet our plan or we haven’t figured out how to best partner with the community.

[00:20:00] This is just like, the other stakeholder engagement framework. So it allows you to kind of go in and out and say, okay, if I messed up in the implementation phase, let’s go back to the data phase and see, are we implementing the right strategies? Are we helping who we need to help? So, I encourage you all to look at this tool and to think really deeply about these questions when you’re thinking about your policy priorities, when you’re thinking about engaging in social issues, when you’re thinking about internal policies around race equity, around inclusion because I think it’s a really helpful guide or that’s just kind of a pulse.

Am I here is this right? Does this align with what we want to champion as an organization, as a GR team, as an HR team, et cetera? So now we’ve talked about tools. We’ve talked about what the survey data says or suggests, and I will get into a little bit about the value of partnerships. So I think oftentimes we think, okay, well I have someone doing this in X department, or I’m just going to lean on HR for everything.

I want to encourage you all to do that, but also consider partnering with other folks in the space to help you think about race equity. Think about diversity, equity, inclusion for your policy priorities, for your advocacy strategy. Prior to joining the Public Affairs Council. I was at a place called Achieve Mission and we were doing more nonprofit consulting, but it was for, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we would help whole organizations, or we would help departments think about what race equity looks like, what it means to embed inclusion into your policies, into your structures.

[00:22:00] What does it mean to create programs with the output being equity for. Not the output being, you know, X bill pass, but the output being equity. And then yes, the bill will pass or I’m hoping the bill will pass after I develop these advocacy strikes. So I think, so I offer this, these are just two examples of both independent consultants and institutes.

So the Racial Equity Institute would do something like a full-on workshop, which is sometimes good. Just to make sure again, one of the key responses we got from our public affairs, survey. Our report that we did last spring was that folks wanted a cultural sense or folks really thought about embedding diversity, equity inclusion for the importance of cultural sensitivity to topic areas that doesn’t happen overnight.

And it’s something that, you know, you need to work on through either partnering with a consultant or offering resources or training and things of the sort, but it can be fun. It can be light, but just understanding, that those types of sensitivities, types of, understanding where the gap areas are, come from training, come from partnerships, come from listening, learning, and reading.

What folks in this space such as independent consultants and institutes have to say or are doing right now. So a little bit on. I think one of the critical points I’m so glad Quorum, was able to post me today is the importance of building community with other folks in the space who either are, have diversity, equity, and inclusion, in their jobs, roles, and responsibilities.

I don’t have it in their job roles and responsibilities at all, or just thinking about it and want to be active partners, want to be allies, want to be supporters of the work, because it takes a village and it’s important to think through all these things, as you know, something that is only done through collective effort.

[00:24:00] And just when we think we’re done, we’re not done. So this brings me to at the Council we are hosting our first social impact summit, which I know I was moving fast because we had a lot to cover, but this social impact summit, is set to take place on November 9th, virtually and it’s centered on, three practice areas, social responsibility, sustainability and diversity equity inclusion.

And we’re really thinking about the intersections there because as public affairs professionals, we understand that we’re thinking about right now, we’re thinking about the client project. We’re thinking about next year and later on after that. So we intentionally named the stride because we’re really focused on what it means to be forward.

Moving in this work, what it means to make continuous efforts, to ensure our physical environment. Our living environment, making sure that folks feel safe and comfortable, but also knowledgeable about all these issue areas. So we, are excited to be having sessions that are covering things such as employment to wellbeing.

What it means to have a diverse legislative advocacy program, what it means to be an ally to your colleagues and, sessions will be on things like materiality for our sustainability folks and chip championing, charitable initiatives that directly relate to communities, for more of the traditional social responsibility work.

Questions

[00:26:00] D& I is so important at every level of the organization, hiring retention, communications, employee, community engagement, initiatives, any advice on or examples on how organizations have reviewed their efforts across internally facing and externally facing departments and avoid silos.

No, that’s a great question. So specifically for some of our members internally, if I think if I’m getting your question, right, how do you avoid silence when you’re doing this work internally and externally, I will speak on a little bit about the consulting work I was doing before the Council in reality.

What’s important is that this work has been championed at the leadership level. So once senior leadership gets on board and says, okay, this is something that we want to do. This is something that is going to be grounded in the DNA of our organization. That kind of avoids this, the notion that there’s. Or kind of helps with silos.

I do think the work of how to avoid, kind of active exclusion of different groups who are at different maturity levels, when it comes to diversity, equity inclusion happens through facilitated conversations. It happens through trainings, it happens through manager one-on-ones where you can really process and talk about what this work looks like.

And when it comes to externally facing. What really needs, what really should happen or what I used to advise clients when I was working as the importance of, ensuring that what you’re doing internally is really reflective of what you’re saying externally. So you aren’t going out. And, you know, championing diversity equity inclusion by itself, but employees still feel like they don’t, have a sense of belonging at the organization.

[00:28:00]So I think the silos are avoided in two parts. One is when leadership is bought in and there is alignment on how to set up this work and is not just the immediate pivot. It’s bringing folks along the way and meeting them where they are and then pushing them forward. And then externally it’s being able to, ensure that your ducks are in order enough to be able to communicate honestly and appropriately to external-facing folks.

So how are companies and organizations objectively measuring success in D&I, especially for resource allocation purposes? Is it based on the increase in diversity hiring increase in sales victory at the election booth? What are some ways that folks have been able to prove an ROI on their successes?

That’s a great question. It’s a hard question because it is really dependent on the company on their goals. I will say. One of the things that we’ve seen is, having more diverse leadership. So being able to provide metrics on internal representational, diversity, being able to provide metrics on retention, but when it comes to success, I think success or, companies are focusing more on impact.

So when you’re thinking about what diversity, equity, inclusion looks like, you might create, your own framework or your own. Kind of goals or deliverables or things of the soar, based on your board or based on your shareholders, et cetera, et cetera. But, it’s really hard to measure these type of initiatives one, because if you are a smaller organization, you might not have the infrastructure, but for larger organizations, yes, there are.

[00:30:00] Diversity data metrics in place that I’m more and more so are likely to get mandated from the federal level. So folks are using things like that, but, for like a smaller association or, you know, a mid-level company, it really was Determined by what your leadership and what your human resource department deems, as, you know, the most critical metrics to measure.

It could be retention. It could be, staff engagement. It could be, you know, the rate of involvement and your initiatives. So it could be how many bills you pass that have, you know, this lens. So it’s depending on. But as of course, like, as you get larger, as your companies are larger, you are kind of basing yours off federal.

One question here, about the survey where public affairs professionals said, um, racism was a larger problem. Did they offer any qualitative analysis on that?

About what, what their thoughts were? Or was it just, like a yes or no? Kind of a question. So, Be able to likely dig in more of that later, but really, so we didn’t provide as much anecdotal data around that. But yes, I believe in our report, we do have a couple of key examples and for anyone who wants to know more specifics or wants to read the longer report, I can provide a link.

Can you talk a little bit more about the Stride conference? So who’s like the target audience member for that. What are you hoping that they come away with at the end of that conference?

[00:32:00] Sure. So for stride, we are building a newer community. So we’re hoping that folks, regardless of where they sit in a second. We’ll feel excited and comfortable coming to a conference where we’re going to be championing diversity, equity, inclusion, sustainability, and social responsibility. Those three areas specifically, because we realize that not only are they intertwined, but they’re where today’s pressing issues lie.

So, we will talk about everything that our members have told us and everything that, really. To, kind of engage in work towards, to better society. So we’re going to be talking about like I mentioned, charitable initiatives, but we’re also going to be talking and talking about legislative advocacy, and then we’ll be talking about updated ESG reporting mandates because we realized that, they might come down while we’re in our conference is key to companies who are larger, who are thinking about, what it means to actively participate in that area.

So we’re seeing deep into intersections around what it means to be engaged in social issues, what it means to, engage in social responsibility. During COVID recovery, post-racial reckoning, we’re seeing, just even intersections and want to have a full and robust conversation about what it means to, kind of activate those juices in your work as public affairs person.

Do you have any recommendations for folks who might be, lower-level not necessarily in leadership positions on how you get executive buy-in from someone who might be, you know, a little more cynical, right.

So I think the best thing to do, or a couple of key things to do, when you’re thinking about leadership buy-in and wanting to start something at your organization is really take time and have those conversations.

[00:34:00] So talk with your manager and say, you know what? I don’t think we have this here. But this is the data shows that this is happening, or I’d really like to have a deep conversation with how I can feel better supported in my time here, or I’ve lost a sense of belonging here and I think it’s really important that leadership knows.

And then I feel like that’s a great room, or we would say in my previous organization, it’s a great room to manage up, to grow in the organization, by offering those insights. You never want to feel like you’re shouldering the burden of, you know, propelling the work on your own. But if you’re in that position where it doesn’t exist, it’s a great place for you to, you know, help create the roadmap, help create that path, for, continued conversation for new initiatives for opportunity.

And most likely leadership will be excited to hear that there are folks there that want to better the organization through championing those initiatives.

You spoke a good bit about partnerships and one of the questions here is, we’d love to hear insight on the racial equity executive order for government agencies and how to align their plans with our work. Is that something you could see?

We don’t work that much. Not I, a little, little teeny bet dealt with that in my previous position, achieve mission before we went to dissolution. But what I will let you all know is that I was previously at independent sector and they did a full webinar, on that.

So I think they’d be a really good resource to talk about how to find specific. That’s a great point.

Are there any other resources that you frequently refer to that you can tell our audience about? And so they can go read more?

[00:36:00]Sure. So there are a lot of different places where I, kind of see what’s happening in the space. So one of them is just reading, my newsletters every morning. So oftentimes. We aren’t looking at, policies or looking at recent news, like the hell or things for through a lens of diversity equity inclusion, but it’s really important to say or critical to see what, what folks were championing, and what policies and priorities they’re engaging in.

So just those types of, newsletters and new sites, but I’m also really interested and continue to listen to folks’ podcasts. I love to hear a new podcast. So, Benevity has a new podcast that they just started. They’re a gifting platform. And, they have a podcast centered on purpose and it was one of the podcasts that, you know, I never expected to, really stumble upon, but I listened to it.

And then. Really talk about what it means to lead purpose-driven initiatives. So I think podcasts are a great way to, hear what’s happening in the space while you’re doing your work. So I listen to that. I also follow some practitioners on Twitter and Instagram and stuff in the space that I used to work with that I know are doing good work now.