Institute for Public Relations
IPR is featuring some of the many LGBTQ+ pioneers and modern-day heroes to celebrate Pride month.

Bayard Rustin was a prominent civil rights activist. He is best known for organizing the "March on Washington" for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, where more than 200,000 people gathered and where Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. gave his now-famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Rustin advocated for civil rights beginning in the 1940s, but a turning point came in his life when he was arrested in 1953 after being seen in a parked car with two men. This was the first time his sexual orientation was publicly aired.

Activists criticized Rustin’s sexual orientation and thought it would undermine the civil rights movement. He was dismissed from multiple associations that he helped found, including the Fellowship of Reconciliation (that later created a fellowship in Rustin’s name to honor his legacy). Senator Strom Thurmond also denounced Rustin in an effort to sabotage his organizing role in the "March on Washington." Despite these efforts, the March proceeded under Rustin’s leadership. 

Rustin became an outspoken advocate for gay rights in the 1970s and remained an outspoken activist for the rest of his life.

Nilanjana Bardhan, Ph.D., Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and Craig L. Engstrom, Ph.D., Southern Illinois University Carbondale
This blog is based on the original journal article in the Public Relations Journal.

There is rapidly growing awareness across industries that leaders need to take diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) seriously and actively support initiatives that can root out systemic bias and discrimination within organizations. In fact, there is plenty of research suggesting DEI in any industry cannot succeed without leadership support, and support includes communication choices. How leaders narrate and construct messages regarding DEI is consequential.

Public relations leaders are in strategic positions of power to improve the state of DEI in the industry through how they communicate about DEI-related issues. However, past research and industry trade discourse suggest leadership support for DEI, both communicative and in terms of concrete action, has been sorely lacking. In a country where currently marginalized groups will collectively constitute a slim majority by 2050, the level of diversity in the public relations industry is anywhere between 11 and 20% according to various sources. While the racial and social justice movement over the past year has put DEI on the front burner, there is still a long way to go.

We examined themes across stories in PRSA’s Diverse Voices to reveal the shared vision of PR leaders and the implications of this vision on DEI practice.

In partnership with PRNEWS, “Lessons Earned” is a series featuring IPR Trustees and affiliates discussing a hard-fought lesson or triumph that helped to mold or change their career. 

You know the feeling. The knot-in-your-stomach, lump-in-your-throat sensation when you realize you’ve made a mistake.

It was May 2014. The day began like any other. I was compiling news headlines for a daily round-up email to employees. Back then, that’s how companies communicated with employees about internal and industry news.

Each morning I combed through thousands of stories, picked the most relevant, formatted the publication, double-checked hyperlinks, and hit ‘Send,’ to more than 50,000 employees.

I was working on other things when an email alert arrived with the subject line: ‘DID YOU MEAN TO SEND THIS?’ My heart sank. Immediately, I knew what I’d done. I’d sent a risqué, profanity-laced Men’s Health magazine story to the entire company.

Fortune and Indiggo explored purpose-driven leadership performance in the top 100 companies of the Fortune 500.

A metric called "ROL" or "Return on Leadership" was used to create a purpose-driven leadership ranking. ROL examines 17 key factors which include integration of purpose, leadership execution, and employee satisfaction. All raw information was drawn from publicly available sources.

Key findings include:
  • Despite public controversies, Facebook ranked #1 on the list.
  • Facebook was rated highly in leadership alignment and strategic clarity.
  • COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers Johnson & Johnson ranked fourth, and Pfizer ranked sixth.
  • The higher a company was ranked, the more likely it had both higher profit growth and revenue growth, though the data didn't focus on financial metrics. 
  • The top 25 companies' revenue growth was seven times higher than that of companies in the bottom 25.

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