Reframing diversity and inclusion

By Curtis Ramsey-Lucas

Ana Toro (photo by Curtis Ramsey-Lucas)

Has your organization examined its programming, messages, materials, graphics, website, images, and committees for racial and cultural balance? Have you re-evaluated your use of images, terms or phrases that may be perceived by others as degrading or hurtful? Does your organization have specific diversity and inclusion goals and objectives?

These and other questions were the starting point for discussion during “Reframe Diversity and Inclusion: It's More Than Race,” a workshop led by Ana Toro, APR, Fellow PRSA, at the Religion Communicators Council 2018 Annual Convention in Atlanta.

Workshop participants considered the difference between inherent diversity – including age, gender, and race – and acquired diversity – including cultural fluency, technological literacy, cross-cultural competency – as well as organizational approaches to diversity from diversity assimilation and management to leveraging differences.

Toro, who has developed programs and campaigns for the Federal government, pharmaceutical companies, nonprofit organizations, and Fortune 500 companies, shared corporate marketing campaigns emphasizing diversity inclusion as a strength and cited popular support for the same. She noted that 58% of Americans believe increasing diversity makes the United States a better place to live.

Among the examples she shared was Bitty & Beau's Coffee which opened January 2016 in Wilmington, North Carolina with a commitment to employing persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Toro noted that over 80% of persons with developmental disabilities are unemployed. In July 2016, Bitty & Beau’s moved from their original 500 square foot location run by 19 employees with IDD to a 5,000 square foot location that serves as a local coffee house and national headquarters for a company that currently employs 40 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Examples like Bitty & Beau’s remind religion communicators of the value of defining diversity broadly and of the benefit of creating communities and places of employment in which persons can move from access and inclusion to belonging.

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