Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Communication Event Recap

PRSA Detroit alongside IABC Detroit recently hosted an important virtual event to discuss diversity, equity and inclusion. Mark S. Lee, The LEE Group (TLG), MI LLC president and CEO, was moderated our three fantastic panelists:

  • Bridget Hurd, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, chief diversity officer and senior director, diversity and inclusion
  • Lydia Michael, Blended Collective, president and owner
  • Daniel Wallace, General Motors, global diversity initiatives manager

To begin, the group started with their definitions of diversity:

  • Bridget: Diversity is a broad spectrum, it’s multifaceted. It can be about race, where you grew up, what perspectives each person brings to the table and more. At work it’s all about culture that emphasizes:
    • Fairness and respect
    • Value and belonging
    • Space and open workspace
    • Power and growth
  • Lydia: A lot of times people assume diversity is about gender and race, but I like to focus on what diversity is outside of that such as your lifestyle, upbringing, equity and inclusion.
    • Equity means treating people with fairness, and a fair culture.
    • Inclusion means openness, quality and belonging.
  • Daniel: Diversity is being invited to the dance, equity and inclusion signify being asked to dance… We can’t just wait for cultural observances like Black History Month, we need to tell stories about diversity all year.

Next we moved into the topic of organizational commitment statements about diversity. A lot of organizations created these statements and continue to draft them as the conversation about diversity evolves. Here’s what the group had to say:

  • Bridget: Sentiment and commitment statements are ok but there has to be action. These actions need to be meaningful to the community. Evaluating systemic issues goes beyond donations – it’s about looking within the walls of our organizations and seeing the real needs of employees. Don’t be in a hurry to make a grand statement – make an authentic statement that’s reflective of the company.
  • Lydia: In a time like this it’s important to have meaningful communication and go back to the drawing board if a company doesn’t know what their values are. Commitment statements should align with the brand, otherwise it might backfire. Take more time and be sure it’s polished when sharing with the community at large.
  • Daniel: I think commitment statements are good but they have to be backed up. GM did a lot of things, we:
    • Created an inclusion advisory board.
    • Pledged $10M to promote diversity and inclusion.
    • Continued talks in our GMAAN group, which is an African-American employee resource group that was founded to talk about the topics that matter.
    • Appointed a chief diversity officer.

There was a great conversation surrounding the workforce as well.

  • Bridget: It’s important to be aware of biases, stereotypes, microaggressions, etc. She noted that when staff feel there is equality in the organization, employees feel valued.
  • Lydia: Diversifying the workforce is not just about hiring talent, there has be a focus on retention. And there needs to be a clear path outlined for promotions and progress as well.
  • Daniel: We have a Blue Table (like Jada Pinkett Smith’s Red Table) at GM which represents a place to share perspectives. It’s an environment where we diverse employees can voice their thoughts and concerns.

Our Chapter is so grateful to the panelists and moderator for their insights this is an important conversation that we want to continue. In fact, we will be having a follow up event 12:30pm-1:30pm on September 23, so be sure to register.

Watch the full event here.

This post was contributed by the PRSA Detroit Diversity committee.

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