OED #4: Communicating on Issues of Equity and Diversity

Audience. Who are you speaking to? Who will see your message, and who will be affected by it? You don’t always know how far-reaching your message will be.

This workshop talked of communication. Messages and strategies used to convey brand, design, media relations, social media, and crisis management are discussed. A person with a highly visible position, such as a Public Relations Representative, is encouraged to use extreme caution whenever they publicly post, regardless if it’s a personal or professional channel. Given the longevity of messages on the Internet (does anything actually ever go away?), one must always be cognizant of the message they present, paying special consideration to nuances and biases that other groups may have.

Groups are self-identified. American Indians may prefer to be called “Indian” or “Native” or by their tribal name. “Lakota” may even be preferred over “Sioux.” Each individual has a preferred name for their own being. We make attempts to be all-inclusive, but we can’t have the Gay-Lesbian-Bi-Trans*-MTF-FTM-XXY-XYY-Poly-Asexual-Omni-Queer Cultural Center. Our title, GLBTQ and Allies, covers a great portion of the non-heterosexual population, but is accepted to be all-encompassing. It’s important to be flexible in the titles you use on others. Adjust to what their needs and wishes are, an we’ll have a lot better form of communication at hand.

Authenticity is matching communication and marketing to actual representations. One presenter, who is Lakota, told a story of how her college application materials contained too many pictures of American Indians, falsely representing the environment she would encounter at the school. The communication did not reflect reality, and that causes problems when expectations are not met.

Job interviews for high-level positions, such as U of MN Police Chief, use search committees to find candidates that meet strict qualifications and have specific experience that can grow and benefit the University of Minnesota community. When asking about serving diverse communities, we found that they should be specific, asking for specific strategies to determine their true commitment to diversity and equity.