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PRSA-NY Embraces Diversity and Inclusion with a Two-Tiered Focus in the 2017 Big Apple Awards

Wednesday, February 22, 2017  
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Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is a top-of-mind issue for senior executives across all business sectors, but it means different things to different people.

Within the U.S. public relations industry, the D&I topic—though sensitive for some and pressing for many—is unifying. It’s a push-and-pull process between maintaining a moral ethical code and creating a diverse pool of talent that represents 21st century America. 

Real diversity is not just gender, race, ethnicity or orientation," said Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga in a recent article in The Holmes Report. "Real diversity is diversity of background and experience. If you come from the same backgrounds you’ll have the same blind spots and miss the same trends."

Texture and richness in creativity arises through diversity of people and diversity of thought. That’s good for the PR business.

Internally, D&I practices can mean gender parity in increasing the number of women in senior level leadership positions, bringing in more people of color and those belonging to the LGBTQ community. It can be dictated by factors such as recruitment, the culture of an agency or firm and even the level of awareness of public relations as a career choice.

D&I can also be influenced by external forces, such as clients who are demanding diversity on their accounts, doing the right thing and upholding a moral code. 

But the overall lack of diversity and inclusion across the PR industry, along with the difficulty of assigning metrics to track D&I activities, remains a challenge to overcome.  The industry is looking for solutions.

This has given PRSA-NY and its members—with our position in the cultural capital of the world—a unique leadership opportunity in the identification and sharing of best practices and the development and application of metrics for the betterment of the industry as a whole. 

PRSA-NY’s first small step is actually a significant stride towards information sharing. For the 2017 Big Apple Awards we have introduced a Diversity and Inclusion Campaign Award (Category #25) and a corresponding Spotlight Award (Category #33) to recognize and showcase the investments of time, creativity, resources, and the long-term commitment that agencies and firms are making in D&I.

The D&I Campaign Awards (Category #25 with subcategories for business; government, associations and non-profit organizations, and smaller campaigns of $150K or less) create an opportunity for agencies and firms to demonstrate how they have applied research and emerging best business practices across a campaign for their client or own organization. D&I must be the key actor who remained center stage throughout the campaign, demonstrating a unique ability to collaborate, identify problems, develop solutions and make recommendations with confidence.

The corresponding Spotlight Award (Category #33) hones in on a specific D&I activity.  This could be a component of a larger campaign that embraces differences in ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, education, and religion. A Spotlight Award could also recognize efforts that have been taken to incorporate D&I into the value proposition of an agency or organization.

Together, we will celebrate the winning entries in these categories. But the greater value will be returned to the industry through the D&I data, research and learnings we gain from the entries. This sharing of information clearly represent 21 century leadership. We encourage your participation. 


Angela K. Chitkara is an Associate Director of the PRSA-NY Big Apple Awards and tenure-track Assistant Professor, PR Track Director in the Branding and Integrated Communications program (BIC) at The City College of New York ( CCNY). She is currently working on research in collaboration with The Holmes Report involving the role of the CEO in Diversity and Inclusion, due for release in May 2017. Angela can be reached at

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