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Diversity is key to remaining relevant

Embrace diversity if you want your business to survive: Aedhmar Hynes explains how in her first speech as the newly-elected Chair of The Arthur W. Page Society

Embrace diversity if you want your business to survive: Aedhmar Hynes explains how in her first speech as the newly-elected Chair of The Arthur W. Page Society

This week, I was honored to be elected as the 2018 Chairman of the Arthur W. Page Society, the world’s leading professional association for senior public relations and corporate communications executives and educators who seek to enrich and strengthen their profession.

At Page, we bring communications professionals together with the shared purpose of having a lasting effect on the world through the strategic advice we give to the enterprises we serve.

I believe the Page Society must evolve to meet the industry’s changing needs. We have an amazing foundation and depth of understanding of the challenges the CCO faces, but to ensure we remain relevant into the future, we need to have a clearer understanding of how the Page Society benefits its members today.

Our findings show that members value and honor the standards upon which the organization was created. The Page Principles are more important now than ever.

But what effect do we have on society? The Page Model posits that we must help our enterprises build a strong corporate character deserving of trust and then build that trust with diverse stakeholders by starting with an open conversation intended to build a shared belief.

We must have a consistent point of view and perspective about the communication challenges ahead, while quickly addressing the problems of today with relevant and actionable information and opportunities for connection.

We also need to change the perception of Page as a U.S.-centric organization and make a stronger effort to become globally relevant. I believe passionately that the Page Society should globalize its activities and presence, carving out its place in the future of worldwide communications.

To do this, there are three themes we can focus on: Diversity, Diversity and Diversity.

Diversity in talent

There is a danger in our industry to recruit in our image. How do we change that? How can we be a force for good in society? By showing how our industry embraces difference and is truly reflective of the society with which we communicate.

We need to search for the leaders of tomorrow. They may come from a school in Delhi, a university in Kuala Lumpur, a youth club in Shepherd’s Bush or a college in Alabama. We must rightfully challenge existing perceptions in our industry and in our businesses, in order to become better businesses and a better industry.

Diversity in thinking

The U.S. view is not the world view (although I am sure some American political leaders would challenge that). Trends start anywhere; some stay the course, some disappear.

But there are some fundamental issues facing the enterprises we serve: everything from the post-truth era to the impact of the ‘new normal’ in China and social uprising in many parts of the world. We should prepare our members to help their enterprises lead and frame discussion and interaction on these critical geopolitical and social issues.

The world wants to know.

We should be leading and framing important global discussions and interactions, not following.

Diversity in training

It’s fine to be hiring new people who aren’t clones of the ones leaving, but change effected through attrition alone would take a generation; that’s far too long if we want to be ahead of the curve and shaping the future, rather than being shaped by it.

Companies of today cannot be the companies of tomorrow. Changing the way we think and work is too urgent a need to wait for turnover to deal with it. Training everyone to embrace diverse viewpoints and include them in their current thinking means we’re folding diversity into the mix, instead of having lumps of the old guard sticking to the old ways.

Technology has permanently altered the function of communications in an organization, and thereby, our role as communicators. We have assumed a much more strategically important position within our companies. With that responsibility comes immense challenge.

These challenges come from a fundamental new reality. They must be met with an equally fundamental realignment of ourselves and our profession if we are to succeed.

I’m extremely proud to take on the role of chair of the Page Society, and I will continue to work to set the standards for our profession, living the values by which the Society has always operated and helping prepare our members be a force for change in their enterprises and the world.

You can watch my remarks from the 2017 Page Society Annual Conference here:

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