ketner group dei committee

Ensuring Everyone Has a Voice in Communications: Creating a DEI Committee

Many of us can remember the social unrest that occurred in May and June 2020. George Floyd’s murder not only initiated immense public response, but many businesses made statements against racism and injustice. Another result of this societal awakening was companies began looking inward to support diversity, equity and inclusion – including yours truly.

With communications at our company’s core, it was important for us to formalize our dedication to DEI efforts and ensure Ketner Group continues to be a great place to work. As the DEI committee co-lead, I wanted to share more about how our committee was created, and the ways we promote DEI to foster a sense of belonging and ensure everyone has a voice.

Training sessions: uncomfortable but critical

When the act of formalizing DEI processes is net-new, it can be daunting to start. We all know it’s important, but it’s equally important to get it right. DEI efforts must be authentic and sustainable, not performative.

With this new initiative ahead of us, we reached out to Daniel Oppong, a friend of Ketner Group, and founder of DEI training and consulting firm, The Courage Collective. With his team, we held a training session via Zoom during which we learned everything from identity as it relates to the workplace to allyship and antiracism. What’s more, the Courage Collective team encouraged us to acknowledge our diversity and have hard conversations with each other.

Committee creation: approach from both sides

By its definition, DEI can’t be done alone, so our next step was to form a volunteer-based committee. For us, it was imperative for the committee to be led by members of the junior team. However, we also sought executive leadership buy-in, as this is crucial for a committee’s success. In this way, we ensure all voices are heard and that initiatives have the support needed to get off the ground.

Over the past two years, the team has launched several initiatives, including:

  • Updating language around hiring and recruiting processes, to search for new team members that are a “culture add” rather than a “culture fit.”
  • Identifying quarterly initiatives and goals based on anonymous employee surveys.
  • Establishing our values to set expectations for how we work together as a team as well as how we work with clients.

Monthly observances: continuing the conversation

One of my personal favorite activities that has come out of our DEI committee is our recognition of monthly observances. This often involves us learning and celebrating the histories and contributions of marginalized communities. This is another team-voted idea where we highlight different topics throughout the year. 

Most recently, the team celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month, from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Across our offices and remote teams, we were able to come together in several ways:

  • Sharing unique articles in our team Slack channel.
  • Voting on a charity and making a donation to the charity on the behalf of the Ketner Group team. This month, it was Latinos for Education
  • Holding a Spanish “pop quiz” on our team staff meeting, to learn words in Spanish that were specific to the PR world.
  • Lastly, we wrapped up the month with a team lunch-and-learn. Each team member was able to share a slide and speak on a subject of their choice. Topics ranged from Lin-Manuel Miranda, Prudencia Ayala, Sylvia Mendez and more. We also encouraged our team to order in from local, Hispanic-owned restaurants. 

Amplifying voices

Whether we’re a company of 10 or 100, it’s important to ensure our culture is built on a solid foundation of DEI. There’s even data-backed proof that DEI improves team innovation and financial success. But while it’s good for business, more importantly, a DEI program is good for people, too.

At Ketner Group, we’ve made it clear we’re in a people-first industry. As conversations and programs around DEI are ever evolving, we have an ongoing motivation to ensure a sense of belonging for every one of our team members.