Diversity and Inclusion

Guest Blog Post by Teresa Flores Guillen, OU PRSSA Inclusion Director. 

When I hear about diversity and inclusion, the terms are very often used interchangeably. The message is usually that beyond tolerance, we are trying to create a campus that values every individual the same and gives everyone the same opportunities to succeed. As part of what we called the Inclusion Committee within PRSSA, however, I think it’s important to understand what those words mean individually and why they are both so crucial to the development of the OU community.

A few years ago, I heard someone explain it in such a simple way, I was shocked I hadn't heard it from anyone else. It was a speaker at a networking event whose name I can’t seem to remember but whose words stayed with me until now.

You can look at it this way, diversity is about who gets invited to the table, while inclusion is about who feels welcomed at the table.

It’s a simple enough concept, and it’s that simplicity that made its truth resonate with me. So how do we know the difference and where do we draw the line?

When we talk about diversity in the industry, I think people understand we’re talking about richer ideas that come from collaborating with a group of people with all kinds of backgrounds and knowledge, because they all have a unique view of the world. Diversity occurs in spite of oppressive or exclusionary attitudes or behaviors within an institution because of individuals' desire and drive to move forward and succeed in any industry. 

On the other hand, inclusion is about letting people know that their voices are important, that they have something to say on every matter and they should because their perspective will always be uniquely theirs. Our industry, public relations, is better off when it opens doors to those who can make a positive change and bring innovative ideas to the table, regardless of who they are. This is where it gets tricky. It's never a question of diversity for the sake of diversity, but we must understand how our neutrality can be perceived when the norm has for so long been that minority groups have less of a voice, if they have one at all. The growing effort within the industry to create more inclusive spaces communicates to both its professionals and its publics that public relations is ready to take on the expanding global market, acknowledging those who have a voice, both from within the an organization and from its stakeholders' perspective.

Why are diversity and inclusion important in a public educational institution like the University of Oklahoma? Because this is where many of us really get to see the world and learn about others' experiences. This is the first place that will welcome us as professionals, and give us new ideas and the tools to use them. It’s not about diversity for the sake of diversity, but rather about looking for innovation and understanding, both of which require varied perspectives. Both diversity and inclusion foster an expansion and exploration of ideas that emerge when the individuals in a group have different backgrounds, knowledge and expertise.

Industry Tips from a OU PRSSA Graduate

By Meg Bradley, OU PRSSA PR Chair

Our Sept. 27 general meeting speaker, Kate Brennen

Our Sept. 27 general meeting speaker, Kate Brennen

If you missed our Sept. 27 general meeting, here are four things you should know from our guest speaker Kate Brannen. Kate is the Managing Associate at Hill Impact, a communications and government relations firm in Washington D.C.. She is a recent graduate of Gaylord College. Here are four tips she gave our PRSSA members about navigating social media, moving away from home and networking. 

1. Standing out on social media 

Follow the people who influence you in the industry on social media. Also be sure to characterize yourself and show your personality when posting on social media. This is a good way to help you stand out. 

2. Networking in a big city

When networking in a big city, remember to throw yourself in as many uncomfortable situations as you can. This allows you to get involved outside of work with activities and organizations that interest you so you can discover like-minded people. This is where you learn and grow! Kate did this by joining a kickball league in Washington D.C.

3. Applying for jobs out of state 

It is important to reflect anything you are passionate about on your resume. This is especially advantageous when applying out of state. If you are eyeing a job somewhere far away from home, go ahead and apply for it. Who knows, it may be your dream job! 

4. Moving away for a job

Kate's big tip for students moving away from home for their first job is this: if you are sheltered in your own little bubble, then it might be time to bust out and experience something new. What great advice! 

Join us at our next general meeting to hear from another great speaker and to learn more about the industry. 

This is the first post of a series highlighting our awesome guest speakers. So stay tuned for more to come!

If you are on the fence here are 4 reasons why you should blog for PRSSA

By Meg Bradley, OU PRSSA PR Chair

If you weren't already thinking about it here are 4 quick reasons why you should become a guest blogger for PRSSA.

If you are interested in contributing content to the PRSSA blog this year please email Meg Bradley for further information on how to get started.