This summary is provided by the IPR Street Team based on the original journal article in the Journal of Public Relations Education by Dr. Nilanjana Bardhan and Dr. Karla Gower

Dr. Bardhan and Dr. Gower explored the role of leaders in bringing about change and how the success of diversity and inclusion efforts are correlated with leadership efforts. This study focuses on educating public relations students and explains that diversity must begin at the academic level to better prepare the school-to-industry flow to be diverse and inclusive.

This study used qualitative, in-depth interviewing. The JPRE recruited and interviewed 10 participants from two groups: undergraduate student leaders committed to D&I that are public relations majors at different universities/colleges and faculty/educators that have invested in D&I and research at different universities/colleges. The 20 interviews took place between November 2018 and August 2019 by phone, and interviewees were intentionally selected based on previous awards won, scholarships received, titles held, and research conducted.

Key Takeaways
The interviews contained multiple sections of questions. Within each section, common themes emerged.

The JPRE study revealed three themes regarding the relationship between diversity and inclusion:
·      Diversity and inclusion are not the same
·      Diversity and inclusion are interlinked
·      Definitions need to be broader, complex and more flexible

Regarding the state of D&I in the public relations industry, the study revealed four themes:
·      Some improvement but still a long way to go
·      Leaders need to be more open to change
·      Economic versus moral imperative
·      Lack of authenticity

Respondents exposed two themes regarding the responsibility of industry leadership:
·      Lead by example and communicate
·      Personal engagement, responsibility and accountability

What can educators do? This line of questioning revealed three themes:
·      Diversify curriculum
·      Pay attention to the learning environment
·      Responsibility on educator and structural change

Actionable Suggestions
JPRE’s study demonstrated the need to organize D&I leadership forums and networks to connect students, faculty/educators, and industry leaders so they can work together to create initiatives and programs that enhance the state of D&I in education and the industry. These forums should emphasize the personal responsibility every practitioner – not just underrepresented people – has to diversity and inclusion. These forums need to emphasize how important it is to be inclusive to allow diversity to be successful, the significance of allyship, and the necessity for authenticity and intentionality in all D&I efforts.

Additionally, faculty/educator D&I thought leaders need to work with their peers to enhance curriculum surrounding D&I and develop courses and content that fill current gaps. It’s also important to address educators who need help teaching through a D&I lens and focus on creating inclusive learning environments. Some ways to do this include workshops, webinars, trainings, dialogues, information sharing, conferences and overall collaboration.

Read more to examine the knowledge, skills, and abilities educators and industry professionals need to transform the state of D&I: Student and Faculty/Educator Views on Diversity and Inclusion in Public Relations: The Role of Leaders in Bringing About Change.

Bardhan, N., & Gower. K. (2020). Student and faculty/educator views on diversity and inclusion in public relations: The role of leaders in bringing about change.  Journal of Public Relations Education, 6(2), 102-141.

Location of article: This study can be accessed for free online, here:

Erin Lewis is a member of the IPR Street Team. She is also a third-year student at the University of Florida pursuing a major in public relations and a minor in event management. Follow her on Twitter @mynameserinnn.

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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