The tragic events of recent weeks and months have prompted deep and often difficult conversations across society about systemic racism and the frameworks of privilege that allow it to endure. The horrific death of George Floyd and others in the United States and racist incidents involving Black, Indigenous and people of colour here in Canada, have made it clear that our discussions about diversity, equity and inclusion need to be rooted in our commitment to anti-racism and in tangible steps to promote change.
Many CPRS members have been wondering, with justification, why we as an organization have been quiet as this important public discourse takes place.
We, like you, have been grappling with these questions, first as individuals as many of us try to understand our own privilege, and second as leaders of this organization. The fact is, we don’t have the answers. And we have been unsure where to even begin. So, as any good communicator should do, we want to begin by listening.
Let’s be honest: CPRS has not done a good enough job in reflecting the diversity of our nation or our profession; we have not done the hard work of helping to create equitable opportunities and an inclusive environment for members from racialized and underrepresented communities.
We must do better. We will do better.
CPRS needs to take meaningful action to create a professional association that values and demonstrates diversity and inclusion, and that provides equitable opportunities for all members to participate fully in their profession and in their professional association.
Will we get it right every time? No. But our commitment to you is to take the time necessary to listen and learn, and then to take meaningful, sustainable action.
First, we need to understand and unlearn our own biases before we find a path forward. To do that, we need to have a conversation. That conversation needs to be broader and more inclusive than just us as the CPRS leadership team or even the CPRS membership. We need all of you to be part of the conversation.
We would like to share with you the steps that we will be taking as we begin this important journey together.
We began on June 30 with a CPRS Coffee Chat on the topic of #BlackLivesMatter: An Overview of the PR Response
, hosted by Arefeh Ghane, an emerging communicator who is currently studying in the BPR program at Humber College in Toronto.
We will continue the conversation at the CPRS Virtual Conference (“Transformation 2.0”) on July 9 and 10 with our opening keynote panel on From Unconscious Bias To Conscious Communications: Strategies For Social Justice and Racial Equity
and will be offering free professional development opportunities to educate our members on how they can impact change in their organizations.
We will be striking a National Task Force on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), with the goal of establishing a draft DEI policy that we will share with members for feedback. This will not just be another piece of paper. The goal is to create a framework through which we can drive change within the organization and throughout the profession in Canada. We invite you, if you are interested, to join us and be a part of this important work.
We will begin to develop and share DEI resources to support our members on their own journeys. As part of this effort, we encourage you to share learnings, perspectives and ideas we should consider for further action.
CPRS members are leaders in our industry, and we have an opportunity to lead here too. We can demonstrate that leadership through sharing what we’ve learned with each other and by modeling behaviour through our actions, and further empowering our organizations, our colleagues and our clients.
Our commitment to you is that we will continue to advance change and foster an inclusive and representative association and profession – and we will do so with intention, with purpose, and with your help.
To learn more about how to get involved, contact the National Office at [email protected]
CPRS National Board of Directors