The Change Agencies Offers Comms Pros’ Comments on Growing Corporate Reticence on Diversity Outreach

by | Jun 16, 2023

The Change Agencies, a national network of multicultural and LGBTQ owned and operated public relations and communications firms, shared comments in response to a trend highlighted in a recent Wall Street Journal story on the increasing number of corporations no longer willing to talk about their diversity and sustainability initiatives. As LGBTQ and/or multicultural business owners, communications counselors and members of The Change Agencies, they offered the following perspectives on this story: 

“Fear is a powerful motivator with terrible consequences,” declared Ben Finzel, a managing partner of The Change Agencies, and President of RENEWPR, which is NGLCC-certified as an LGBT Business Enterprise in Washington, D.C. “That’s what we’re seeing with this trend of corporations increasingly afraid to highlight the diversity, equality and sustainability initiatives that were previously front and center in their outreach. In a moment when the country is more divided than ever, now is not the time to cave to craven bigotry and intolerance. Now is the time to stand up for what you believe in even in the face of opposition. Just because the opposition is loud does not mean it is broad or universal. The majority of consumers support fairness and equality. Companies would do well to remember that and to stand up for what they believe in not just when it’s convenient, but always.” 

“If corporations continue to silence themselves about these initiatives, their employees and consumers will start to speak louder than words,” explained Kristelle Siarza, APR, Chief Executive Officer of Siarza, a woman- and Asian-owned communications firm in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “Are corporate leaders going to only talk about DEI and ESG initiatives when ROI is involved? When corporate leaders are afraid to address these problems, how are they able to address everything else? Practicing in New Mexico, people of color (Hispanic, Native, Black and APINH to be specific) are the majority. While our community might not be a major media market, companies are successful in our state when they embrace the diversity. They don’t ignore the cultural nuances. Organizations adopt New Mexico culture as their own company culture, and they don’t shy away from the conversation of DEI.”  

“Young people are watching and with the talent pipeline now being majority minority, it is imperative that business leaders choose to lean in, not lie down, when faced with these challenges,” said Sonia Diaz, Founder and President of Zaid Communications, a woman- and Hispanic-owned communications firm in Miami, Florida. “Staying silent or giving up on the progress that has been made thus far is a sign that organizations continue to need more guidance as it relates to DEI. Professional trade associations, in particular, should be at the forefront of this issue in both helping to develop the workforce of the future and in providing counsel to corporations so they can successfully retain and recruit talent over the next 20 years.”

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