Next week the Chicago Chapter of IABC kicks off its first learning session of 2021 with Kim Clark of Ragan Consulting Group. Kim will share her insights on DE&I and why communicators are important change agents for every company’s DE&I journey. Take a few moments to learn more about Kim before you meet her on Jan. 21.
- Tell us about yourself.
“I live in Silicon Valley, which is in Northern California. To get through the workday, I need the internet, music and tea. My gender is obvious, but my intersectionality is less visible, which is an important lesson for folks to learn about diversity.”
- What was your favorite and/or least favorite job?
“I produced a full-length documentary that created two conferences based on it. It allowed me to travel around the country for two years to screen it. It was the happiest and poorest time in my life.’
Oh, my worst job. I was a production assistant for a tv show and was asked to make coffee for a celebrity guest. I never drink coffee so I had no idea what I was doing. She sipped it and put it down. I felt terrible. So yes, don’t ever ask me to make coffee.”
- How long have you been studying and working in the DE&I space and why does it excite you?
“I’ve been studying DE&I for over 16 years with the diversity trainer, Deborah L. Johnson who’s been doing the work for 40 years. I got more engaged in college and ramped up significantly after studying with Deborah and then when marriage equality was the hot issue. That’s when I understood the real power of allyship and how necessary it is to be vocal and active.’
It excites me because it’s urgent and the work is about life, choosing life. There’s so much I can say here and happy to answer more at next week’s learning session.”
- Why are communicators in a unique role to help lead the DE&I strategy?
“Oh my gosh, how many articles since Jan. 6 are about the power of language, influencing to action? First there’s ideas, then language, then actions and results and so it goes. When language is purposefully used to tap into bias and affirms fears, you get Jan 6.’
For the work environment, communicators set the tone, approachability, transparency, honesty and personality of the company’s leaders, values and culture. If it doesn’t resonate with employees, there’s major trust broken. When it resonates and provides voice to and for employees, then trust is built.’
All anyone wants is to be seen, heard and valued. Communicators can and do have the responsibility of meeting these needs for employees and leaders. We are the conduits and participate in the decision-making process for someone to want to work, leave, stay, buy or invest in an organization.”
- What is the risk organizations face by ignoring or doing little to address DE&I in the organization?
“AAAAHHHHH! Don’t get me started. Ok, first thing, silence truly is complicity in reinforcing status quo – a status quo that is not equitable and inclusive among other things. Not saying anything is the epitome of privilege and it’s irresponsible.’
Typically, this happens because people/leaders don’t know what to do or say, are afraid of saying the wrong thing, fear progress or want to let things “blow over”: Freeze, fight, flight…all stress coping mechanisms. Organizations who are silent are not standing for their employees. They will feel the consequences through things like losing underrepresented talent, losing ally talent, not attracting talent, losing customers, suffer brand reputation damage, lose investors, see an increase of lawsuits, etc. At the very least, these organizations will not survive by the time the US is “minority majority” in 2045.”
Haven’t signed up for ‘Why communicators are the most important DE&I change agents’ on Thursday, Jan. 21 yet? You can do so here.