DIVERSITY at our firm and in the stories we help our clients tell:
The presence of people from a variety of backgrounds, reflecting a plurality of identities.
At our firm: No employees benefit from, nor are disadvantaged by, their personal backgrounds or identities.
In our work: Guiding clients and reporters to employ storytelling practices that reduce stigma and harm, and a commitment to ensure staff, program participants, and community members shape and deliver the stories told about their own experiences, achievements, needs, and goals.
At our firm: A workplace and culture where all employees feel safe, valued, that they belong, and that they can and do actively participate to the fullest extent of their potential.
In our work: Guiding clients and reporters to seek out—and value—input from staff, program participants, and community members when shaping their stories, especially when it pertains to issues of lived experience.
As public relations professionals working in the nonprofit space, we have a responsibility to explore and understand the impact of our work on society. How we work with clients to tell their stories and how these stories are chosen, represented, and communicated all have the potential to reflect bias.
Our work, therefore, must reflect an understanding of how biases perpetuate a wide range of inequities experienced by individuals—particularly Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). And, we must work to combat those biases and eliminate inequities through the stories we choose to tell, the words we choose to use, and the images we choose to display.
We must take specific action to counter racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, and ageism, along with discrimination or bias based on religion. These biases exist at both the interpersonal and structural levels. And, the identities that these biases prey upon intersect and interact to create a wide range of inequities experienced by individuals (e.g., Black women can face discrimination based on race or gender and also based on race AND gender).
Because nonprofits are designed to meet community needs, our work in the nonprofit sector gives us a specific window into intersecting inequalities, and as a result, we prioritize empathy in our interactions.
As an organization, we are working to adapt and grow our practices in order to better promote equity in our organization and beyond. Individually, we commit to participating in this work and upholding the values of this statement.
The role we have as communicators presents both an opportunity and a responsibility to tell stories in an equitable and inclusive way.
Public relations as a whole suffers from a lack of diversity (the public relations industry in the United States is more than 87% white), and so, too, has our firm. The public relations industry has a strong influence over which stories get told, how narratives get framed, and who gets to be the messenger, often perpetuating an inherently biased worldview. The public relations sector must communicate to communities of color and about communities of color by including the voices of people of color. The same holds true for other marginalized groups.
Additionally, as a public relations firm serving nonprofits, Anat Gerstein, Inc. recognizes that, while the nonprofit sector is built on mission-driven work that benefits society, nonprofits are not immune from shortcomings related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We are conscious of how these inequities impact our own work, particularly as it relates to storytelling.
As communicators, we can help our clients further their goals while taking steps to minimize harm to marginalized communities.
In order to uphold our values of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our communications, we commit to the following practices:
These are practices that we incorporate in our internal communications and encourage clients and press that we work with to adopt.
We recognize that words without actions are insufficient in changing the status quo. As a firm, we are currently taking the following steps to make sure our practices align with our values:
As a firm that exclusively serves the nonprofit sector, since our founding we have been conscious of the disparities that exist between many people served by nonprofits and many of the donors and funders of these organizations. As consumers of the news, we have also been acutely aware of how language and imagery used in press stories can perpetuate stereotypes and biases. For several years we have had ongoing conversations about the impact of the power dynamic in nonprofit storytelling, and have been working to minimize the potential harm caused through storytelling.
As the Anat Gerstein, Inc. firm began to grow, we recognized the pipeline from which we were seeking talent for our firm lacked diversity. We intentionally expanded our recruitment and outreach efforts to connect with a more diverse pool of candidates.
In the spring of 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement further inspired us to examine our practices beyond hiring and messaging alone to ensure we become more proactively anti-racist at our firm and within our broader sphere of influence—from the stories we shape for the press, to the counsel we provide our clients, to the ways we spend our firm’s money and resources.
We approach our work with an intersectional framework, knowing that race is but one identity shaping an individual’s experience of the world and not the only identity against which our society’s culture and infrastructure discriminate. We understand that structural racism cannot be dismantled through individual actions alone, and we work to change policies, programs, and practices at the system level in order to affect meaningful change.
This work is both urgent and long-term, and we will prioritize our focus and actions accordingly.
We credit the vision and commitment of activists, both in the streets and on our staff, for compelling us forward. At our firm and in our work, we affirm that George Floyd’s life mattered; Breonna Taylor’s life mattered; Ahmaud Arbery’s life mattered—alongside the many others killed before and after them. Black Lives Matter.