For young individuals entering the public relations field, DE&I is without a doubt one of the most important initiatives in companies. PRSSA has taught me that the implementation of DE&I efforts in an organization is not a difficult practice.
In my PRSSA Chapter at Sacramento State University, the executive board and I practice DE&I by building a team-like environment within our Chapter. When we were completely virtual due to the pandemic, we would take time out of every meeting to go around the zoom room and have all the members talk. We did this through fun icebreakers that we would plan every week for our members. Our icebreakers could range from a fun and silly question, to a serious question. One of my personal favorites was around the time of midterms. We gave everyone a safe space to talk about how they were holding up with everything going on in their lives. A lot of the time, we get so caught up in our lives that we forget to take a step back and take a deep breath, and that was precisely what we hoped to do with that icebreaker. The results made me happy because after our entire Chapter talked and expressed themselves, you could tell that everyone felt more connected to each other.
I recommend that every PRSSA Chapter dedicates the first and last few minutes of every meeting to go around and give the members an opportunity to be able to talk freely. Inclusive activities such as icebreakers and holding conversations with Chapter members makes them feel a lot more comfortable and as if they have found a safe place to be themselves. In one of our Chapter outings, a member brought a food dish from her culture, and it warmed my heart to see how interested people were in the dish and the specialties and stories behind the dish and how it plays a role in their culture. It is so important to see each Chapter member for what they are both inside and outside of PRSSA in order to make everyone feel comfortable and respected. Implementing these practices in PRSSA will make it easier for members to transition into the professional world.
Our Chapter is also mindful of our social media presence. We strive to include closed captions on every video, represent all different holidays and showcase other organizations and their missions. There will always be room for improvement, but these are just a few of the DE&I efforts we have implemented in our Chapter to make a difference. As a Chapter, it is our priority to both hear and amplify the voices of our members to create a more inclusive space.
Sankalp Sharma is a student at Sacramento State University working towards his bachelor’s degree in public relations. He is the vice president of his PRSSA Chapter, a PRSSA District Ambassador and a PRoud Council subcommittee member under PRSSA National. He is interested in a future in agency work or sports public relations.