Diversity in the Hot Seat

“Thinking in the future tense.”

One slip of the tongue can be disastrous to an organization. A seemingly innocent comment is someone else’s sensitivity. During a crisis having diverse implications, the dos and don’ts are key to communicating to a diverse audience.

What stage of diversity is your company?

  1. Affirmative Action (Compliance)
  2. Valuing Diversity (Celebration/Training)
  3. Managing Diversity (Changing Culture)
  4. Inclusive (Team Building/Measurement)

Key take-aways from this session:

  • Diversity is part of the corporate reputation.
  • Manage diversity as a business strategy. Measure and tie to your diversity mission.
  • Ensure communications are inclusive, reflect goals, capture cultures, culturally competent and value behaviors.
  • Communications must reflect reality.
  • Companies must practice to be inclusive.
  • Avoid a crisis not through intellectual strategies alone, but also emotional strategies.
  • Create strategies and tactics to make amends. This is not appeasement, but real measures of change.
  • Prepare annual crisis drills or workshops as a part of diversity training.
  • Develop corporate standards for blogging and social networks/media.


This session was presented by Annette Cummings, vice president, diversity services, Bernard Hodes Group and Stacey Havel, director, public relations, Bernard Hodes Group.

For coverage on the PRSA 2008 International Conference: The Point of Connection, visit www.prsa.org/conf2008.

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Lauren Vargas

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