The Diversity Action Alliance is a global coalition of public relations and communications industry associations and leaders who are working to accelerate progress of meaningful and tangible achievements in diversity, equity, and inclusion in the profession. Duke was the first university to sign on as a member of this group.
Duke’s chapter, the Diversity Action Alliance Steering Committee was formed to foster diversity, equity and inclusion among communications professionals. As of 2020, data indicates that approximately 90 percent of employees in communications roles at Duke are white.
To address the lack of diversity among Duke Communicators, the steering committee has been charged with developing recommendations for: identifying, recruiting, retaining, and promoting diverse talent in the communications profession at Duke; embedding diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism in our central and local communications strategies, programs, and content; enhancing opportunities for professional development and support through both existing initiatives and new programs; and establishing goals, measures, and processes for tracking progress in a highly decentralized environment.
The Steering Committee was formed in July 2020, and began the work of determining how to take action on the recommendations. By summer 2021, five subcommittees were formed and more than 50 communicators from across Duke volunteered to serve on one during the 2021-22 academic year. Many continued their service during the 2022-23 academic year and were joined by new volunteers. Accomplishments to date include creating a successful mentorship program; conducting an analysis of Communicator responses to Duke’s climate survey; conducting focus groups for Communicators of color and participants in the NCCU internship program; compiling resources for inclusive communications, inclusive talent recruitment and searches, and ethical imagery; and hosting workshops for Duke Communicators on privilege.
Chair: Kathryn Kennedy
This subcommittee focuses on how to effect and track change in HR practices despite operating in a very decentralized environment. Their initial action item was to conduct a climate survey of communications professionals at Duke that can help identify and understand the workplace environment and the ability of managers to nurture and retain talent.
Chair: Patricia Green
This subcommittee focuses on how to use recruiting and hiring to build a more diverse workforce in communications. Their initial action item was to find opportunities to work with Black and BIPOC communities to build and widen pipelines for identifying talent.
Chair: Courtney Orning
This subcommittee focuses on developing mentorship opportunities for people working in communications at Duke. Their initial action item was to determine, put structure around, and streamline a process for identifying mentors and mentees, guiding their interactions, and providing them with resources.
- Communicators Mentorship Program website (NETID required)
Chair: Lindsay Gordon-Faranda
This subcommittee focuses on helping to empower people of color in their careers by providing and centralizing educational resources. Their initial action items were to identify and develop ways to hear from Duke experts on topics relevant to diversity, such as lunch and learns or fireside chats, and to begin building a library of resources that they can access to supplement their learning.
- Resources for Inclusive Communications (Google Doc)
Co-Chairs: Bernadette Gillis and Jennifer Sider
This subcommittee focuses on how do we do a better job of representing people and communities of color in our daily work as communicators. Their initial action item was to create guidelines for ethical use of images, building off previous work by the Duke Global Health Institute.
Co-Chairs: Camille Jackson and Andrew Park
The Steering Committee for the Diversity Action Alliance at Duke provides guidance, resources, and planning for the five subcommittees outlined above. Working together with these subcommittees, the steering committee gathers deliverables and compiles a report summarizing DAA activities at the end of each semester.