Embracing Inclusion in the Profession: Orange County PRSA Wins 9th Chapter Diversity Award

December 1, 2014

Pamela Crouch, Laarni Rosca Dacanay, Bridget Jackson and Angela Burrell, APR
Pamela Crouch, Laarni Rosca Dacanay, Bridget Jackson and Angela Burrell, APR

The Orange County Chapter received the 2014 Chapter Diversity Award at this year’s PRSA International Conference in Washington, D.C., for outstanding efforts in advancing diversity initiatives. The Chapter has won the award nine out of the last 10 years, with this year being its eighth consecutive win.

Among its year-long commitment to attending diversity programs and providing networking events for its members, OCPRSA hosted its 10th-annual Diversity Forum, “Moving the Needle: Exploring the Past Decade of Diversity in Business, PR and Communications.”

Tactics spoke with Pamela Crouch, OCPRSA’s 2014 Diversity Committee chair, and an account executive at Westbound Communications Inc., who discussed the Chapter’s efforts in greater detail and offered advice to other Chapters looking to increase their own diversity initiatives.

Why is diversity so important in the PR profession? How does it apply to the Orange County Chapter specifically?

For many reasons, embracing diversity and inclusion makes us better PR practitioners. There is a strong business case for diversity. It makes teams stronger, more creative and better equipped to meet the challenges of our constantly changing political and cultural environments. Orange County and Southern California is a very diverse region. But, as the national statistics show a lack of diversity in the PR profession, we are also lagging behind in comparison to the actual demographic makeup of our county.

While many of our members serve local clients, Orange County is also home to many national and international companies. In this global environment, the learning opportunities that our Chapter provides are valuable for practitioners of every industry as we embrace the diversity within our own profession. The discussions and conversations we have about diversity prepare and educate our members on how to adapt, embrace, and learn from the diverse communities and cultures within our home market.

How do you keep your efforts unique year after year, while still maintaining a strong adherence to diversity?

We base our annual programming on what’s trending. We have found that the best way to attract engagement and interest from our members is to cover topics that are relevant to our time. There is a plethora of topics to choose from, since diversity encompasses many different [areas of practice], which helps us to come up with unique topics year after year.

Why do you think the Chapter has been so successful with its diversity initiatives?

Our Chapter leadership truly believes in diversity as a top initiative and gives our committee the support that it needs to continue our efforts year after year. Our committee chair holds a voting director-at-large position on the board, which gives us a voice and the ability to utilize our Chapter’s resources. This board position has given the Diversity Committee equal weight and importance to many programs, networking and learning opportunities provided by our Chapter.

What is the communication channel between the Diversity Committee and Chapter members? Does it play a role in learning what initiatives members would like to see?      

The OCPRSA website, social media channels and weekly e-newsletter all serve as excellent vehicles to communicate our committee’s programs and updates. We have a blog on our chapter’s website that allows us to share and post content for our members.

This year, we created and distributed a survey to our Chapter membership in order to gain a better understanding of our demographics and to request feedback for our programming. We gained valuable insight into what our own membership looks like, and how our members think based on a wide variety of criteria. We also asked for input on how we have been doing and ways we can improve.

What advice do you have for other PRSA Chapters to help solidify their diversity efforts?

An ongoing challenge for us, and probably for other chapters as well, is getting your membership on board. This is a constant challenge because many folks think diversity is only about race and ethnicity, so it is important to define what diversity is and what it means to PRSA. It is too easy for people to become apathetic because of what they think “diversity” is.

Millennials, who are the most accepting and ethnically diverse generation, may think they do not need to participate in conversations about diversity since they do not subscribe to the stereotypes and labels that traditionally divide groups. But what about being a young professional in a work environment dominated by baby boomers or Gen Xers? What about being a religious minority, or having an intellectual or physical disability? All of these characteristics are encompassed by the definition of diversity. It is important to remind your membership that we are all different and make up a diversity of thoughts, experiences and abilities.

Comments

Laarni Rosca Dacanay says:

Thank you PRSA Tactics for showcasing the good work of the Orange County Chapter's Diversity Committee and Chair Pamela Crouch. It's been an honor to have led the committee and to bring more awareness about diversity and inclusion in PR and to the region. Here's to a more diverse and inclusive PR profession!! #diversityinPRmatters

Dec. 9, 2014

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