Women’s Rights Activist Promotes the Value of Ethics 

On Sept. 8, 2022, our PRSSA Chapter at Jacksonville State University collaborated with the National PRSA Board of Ethics to host the iconic Lilly Ledbetter to speak about the ethical implications associated with her campaign for the Fair Pay Act, which was signed into law on Jan. 29, 2009, as the first piece of legislation passed under President Obama’s first term in office. 

After receiving an anonymous tip that she was being paid less than her male counterparts serving in similar positions at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Ledbetter feared other women were receiving the same discrimination. This intensified her belief in the importance of creating equal pay for women in the workforce, especially for single mothers. From this, she knew she had to act. 

As she explained her journey for fair pay, Ledbetter shared advice with the audience that is something everyone can carry with them: do not be afraid to stand up for your beliefs, no matter what situation you find yourself in. As we begin our careers as public relations professionals, we must consider how we want to be perceived in the workforce, especially with deciding who we want to represent and work for. By standing up for your values, it shows you have an admirable character that embodies the PRSA ethical framework, which is crucial in our profession. 

Ledbetter’s act helped bring attention to discrimination in the workforce. As a woman of color entering the workforce soon, I believe the coexistence of equality and equity is crucial. If we embed these qualities into our values, it will allow us to succeed in life and within our careers. Ledbetter understood the importance of having ethical values and standing up for the voiceless. It is time for the next generation of women to continue this ongoing battle for equality and equity. 

Having the opportunity to speak with a woman who is an advocate for women’s rights and who is from Alabama — specifically Calhoun County, where our campus is located — inspired many of us. No matter how much society tries to keep you from succeeding, you should always stand up for yourself and those around you. As we step into our future careers in communication, we must embrace these ethical values, because this profession requires us to be honest and put the public’s best interest at heart.

Our Chapter was elated to host this event and have our Jacksonville community attend to listen to Ledbetter’s wisdom. This event showed that no matter your background, you can make a positive impact within society. Ledbetter’s courage has influenced policies across the nation that personify the importance of women’s rights; her admirable perseverance was evident to the audience. This hybrid webinar was also the first National PRSA event to involve a live audience of students, faculty, and staff from a university campus, and it was made possible by our university’s department of communication, strategic communications and digital media services. 

Ellejae Reynolds is a senior at Jacksonville State University, majoring in public relations with a minor in political science. She currently serves as JSU PRSSA president, Model Arab League vice president, and JSU’s Student Senate Public Relations Committee head. You can connect with her on LinkedIn

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