Panelists Rania Jamison, owner and president of Purpose Promotions, Ore Oluwole, senior director of communications for My Carolina Alumni Association and diversity chair for South Carolina Public Relations Society of America, and Meaghan Norman, digital communications and branding specialist at Boeing shared their personal experiences as well as advice for current students. The panelists all agreed that diversity and inclusion needs to be visible from the top down.
“Professionals and students need to recognize the importance of mentorship and sponsorship,” said Norman. “Having a mentor is so important for advice, but having someone to advocate for you behind closed doors is really going to get your foot in the door when you aren’t there to advocate for yourself.”
Students from the University of South Carolina, Benedict College and Columbia College asked panelists about a diverse range of topics including interview conduct and the stress of being the only person of color in a professional setting.
“Sometimes I walk into a room and realize that I am the only one and I am still invisible,” said Oluwole. “I have to remind myself why I’m there, I deserve to be there, and I keep on pushing to be noticed and share my ideas.”
The panelists pointed out that progress starts when the people having these conversations are representative of the leadership. The people who need to hear insight were not necessarily in the room.
“I wish there were more men in the room,” said Jamison. “I would love to talk to those that have a great deal of innate privilege and help them understand our stories and goals.”
The Commit2Connect team created a toolkit to build upon the topics discussed in the panel and help organizations find the first stepping stones in creating a diverse and inclusive environment. The toolkit can be found at bit.ly/c2ctoolkit.
Commit2Connect is an initiative launched by students at the 2019 Bateman Team from the University of South Carolina to increase and raise awareness of diversity and inclusivity efforts among communication and public relations professionals in the state of South Carolina. The program aims to build a pipeline of diverse young professionals prepared to succeed at the highest levels. For more information, please visit our website commit2connectorg.wordpress.com