Public Relations for Social Responsibility

Cover of Public Relations for Social Responsibility

Affirming DEI Commitment with Action

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Synopsis

Table of contents

(16 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xix
Content available
Abstract

This chapter squarely attributes DEI responsibility to powerful corporations that have historically benefitted from a history of discrimination against people of color and recommends a path forward that embraces DEI-PR-CSR intersections by placing DEI within a CSR office rather than in HR.

Abstract

The inequalities in health and economic impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in communities of color and the racial uprising that followed the death of George Floyd have forced organizational leaders to confront their own shortcomings and those of their organizations regarding ways they prioritize stakeholder issues related to employees, local communities, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) commitment as it relates to organizational infrastructures. This chapter examines the impact of institutional racism on the ability of PR practitioners to engage with and manage social responsibility (SR) in relationships with communities of color and impact on their discourse. I use the lenses of critical race theory, stakeholder theory, and situational crisis communication theory to illustrate some organizations' communication strategies employed in response to COVID-19 and antiracism protests supporting prioritization of Black and Brown communities' needs. My central argument is that the concerns of communities of color are generally ignored because Black and Brown people often are invisible to organizations and the PR professionals that are supposed to represent them because of institutionalized racism and the sociocultural environment in which PR professionals operate.

Abstract

This chapter offers critique of 2019 Social Responsibility (SR) reports from the five largest American-based pharmaceutical companies (based on revenues and number of employees) and offers suggestions for improved communication about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practices. Pharmaceutical treatments are an important component of health care. To improve health-care commitment, DEI practices must be front and center for the pharmaceutical industry and communicated via their SR reports targeting stakeholders. While some pharmaceutical companies have made greater strides toward communicating DEI than others, SR reporting often is diminished by lack of clear focus on specific practices. Thus, stakeholders may lack basic understanding of these endeavors and the companies' reputation may suffer the consequences.

Unit II Unique Social Responsibility Style of Women and People of Color Managing Organizations

Abstract

We enjoin stakeholder theory, radical-cultural feminist theory, and critical race theory with critical intersectionality to critique findings which suggest that there still are significantly more men than women on nearly every Fortune 500 board of directors, with only six corporations featuring (50-50%) gender equity in 2017. Also, only 4.1% board members are women of color and 9% are men of color. Sixty-five people of color on corporate boards serve on more than one board. This means there are even fewer people of color filling top corporate leadership positions than meets the eye. The proposed alternative course of action is for boards of directors to follow the example of the small handful of peer Fortune 500 corporations that have achieved greater levels of board diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to argue why a responsible leadership (RL) approach advances the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts of organizations and their members in ways that reduce or eradicate bullying behaviors that can thwart DEI authenticity. Strategic communicators (SCs) are positioned to address issues that influence their organization's ability to remain sustainable and to treat each employee ethically. These goals intersect when organizational policies and practices affect workers' ability to develop healthy, sustainable relationships. Workplace bullying behaviors, an area of growing human resource (HR) sustainability concern, disrupt relationship-building processes and increase employees' emotional labor, stress, burnout, and intent to leave. Bullying behaviors include aggressive or abusive communication in relationships with a perceived or positional power differential. Without legal definitions and guidance, organizations must create their own policies and procedures for developing a bully-free work environment. SCs play a critical communication role in these dynamics.

Abstract

This chapter offers an inquiry into the emerging phenomenon of corporate social advocacy, also known as CEO activism, in a non-Western sociocultural context. It addresses gaps in CEO activism research, including a dearth of non-Western contexts, dominance of modernist perspectives, and omission of female activist CEO voices. I apply alternative theoretical lenses of Caritas, Ubuntu, Africapitalism, and postmodernism to examine facets of CEO activism in Ghana. Data were collected through long interviews with 24 activist CEO men and women and data underwent hermeneutic phenomenological theme analysis. Findings suggest that CEO activism in Ghana is motivated by a range of factors previously not articulated in the literature on CEO activism. Brand activism typologies adequately describe the causes/issues advocated by activist CEOs in Ghana – as findings advance perspectives of non-Western society CEO activists. Hence, this chapter internationalizes the CEO activism phenomenon for the public relations literature while extending diversity, equality, and inclusion, sustainability, postmodern values, and insider activist perspectives to also include Caritas, Ubuntu philosophy, and Africapitalism.

Unit III Expanding Social Responsibility Critique to Include New Kinds of Stakeholders When Considering DEI

Abstract

Rarely acknowledged, particularly in business and communications, is that animals have interests in decisions that affect them. This chapter raises questions about how stakeholding is defined and explains why the circle of ethical consideration has been limited to human beings but should be expanded when so much of what we do impacts animals – animals who often labor for our benefit, not theirs, whose bodies are used as food, whose skins are used for fashion and furniture, and who are experimented upon, all without their consent, nor representation of their interests beyond essential physical needs. Animals as laborers/workers for our interests is an important expansion to business and public relations (PR) ethics. While labor is deeply raced and gendered, it also is species dependent. Many practices allowed with animal workers would never be permitted or certainly regarded with concern, if among human beings. Freeman's (1984) two-tiered sense of stakeholders is applied and the argument made that animals should be included in the array of stakeholders, the argument being they are not only silent but also silenced as have been marginalized human groups. This chapter offers a textual analysis of the cover of the December 09, 2013 issue of Time magazine and a response article which serve as a case study for considering animals as stakeholders integral to PR–corporate social responsibility–diversity, equity, and inclusion intersection. I examine deer in the urban landscape and ask whether their perspectives are included in decisions about population, habitat, and health. If communications are to be ethical, inclusive, and socially responsible, animals must be affirmed as part of DEI commitments. Action steps/recommendations for doing so are included.

Abstract

This chapter uses the case of Tay as a basis for exploring Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its implications for corporate social responsibility (CSR). We explore issues with AI in relation to two of Roome's (2005) CSR agendas – responsible business practices and consumer responsibility. Then, we build a framework for approaching AI that connects user and designer perspectives, pointing out key concepts and opportunities for public relations (PR) professionals to engage with both uses for and development of AI in the workplace. We point out the ability of AI, as a technology, to turn the action of connecting to publics from a front office to a back office endeavor. Also, we advocate for PR's need, as a field, to rethink potential changes resulting from the integration of AI into organizations which can affect PR practice at a fundamental level. Finally, we propose ways for PR practitioners, educators, and researchers to consider integrating this understanding of AI into their work.

Unit IV Increasing and Improving Public Relations Skill Sets Necessary for Marshaling Authentic DEI as Social Responsibility in Organizations

Abstract

Strategists long have advocated for incorporation of SMART objectives into communication campaigns but have failed to consider diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as essential components. While the five elements of specificity, measurement, audience, realism, and time provide direction for the organization's success, non-DEI thinking often leads to unidirectional messaging which harms stakeholders and ultimately, organizations. By adopting SMART + IE objectives, campaign planners can ground the five SMART components with conversations about inclusion and equity so that the organization–public relationship does not become one-sided. Shifting from organization-centric efforts to socially responsible ones not only recognize traditionally marginalized community stakeholders, but it lifts their voices and participation in public relations programming. Incorporating DEI thinking as an organic element of the SMART + IE mindset could result in authentic action for moving public relations practice forward.

Abstract

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) continues to evolve as a theoretical concept that increasingly integrates social aspects such as diversity, equity, and social justice (DEI). The study reported in this chapter tests the effects of inclusion as a CSR strategy on key characteristics that develop brand connection with female millennial consumers. Using the Self-Brand Connection theory, we test such components of brand connection as values, identity, and perceived connection. Using an example of a cosmetic brand that chooses to either offer an inclusive or noninclusive lineup of skin care products, the study uses an experimental design to present these two scenarios to two independent samples of female millennials. Results suggest support for the importance of inclusion as the respondents exposed to the inclusive scenario had a more positive attitude toward the brand in all components of brand connection versus respondents exposed to a noninclusive scenario. The difference between the groups was statistically significant in every case. We conclude that inclusion as a component of CSR has a significant impact on female millennials' self-brand connection. As a result, corporations should consider CSR effects in terms of inclusion when developing their branding strategies.

Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to examine community relations as corporate social responsibility (CSR) engagements by sport organizations through the lens of social anchor theory. Specifically, this work explores whether and how sport organizations serve as social anchors in community, and what community relations approaches have the potential to facilitate professional sport organizations as social anchors. Findings are based on textual analysis of CSR reports and community relating websites of nine professional sport organizations in the United States. Findings suggest that sport organizations act as social anchors by identifying with social issues, celebrating diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI), and incorporating the margins into sports. Overall, partnerships, community events, and players' community engagements are the community relations approaches with potential to establish sport organizations as social anchors. The proposed best practices illustrate the intersection of sport CSR initiatives, community relations, and DEI social programs.

Abstract

This chapter offers a first-person account by a faculty member/consultant who advised a chemical manufacturing company, Albemarle (formerly Quality Chemicals Incorporated, (QCI)), on outreach with important external stakeholders that include a diverse community according to age, education, and income. Among this small PA town of residents with a motto of “quality of life comes first,” a community advisory council (CAC) consisting of members reflecting the diverse demographics of the town, launched a communication campaign with research steps to discover how to best prepare the community for risk events.

Abstract

Recognizing the existence of corporate social responsibility (CSR), and more precisely a social impact related to diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI), organizations today are confronted with the question of what is considered as good. How is the good life created and communicatively constructed inside an organization? Who (agent) is responsible to realize, secure, and manage the process of value creation and social change, or moral agency? I offer a new perspective on the ethical duty of public relations (PR) practitioners to be revolutionary, to be communicative rebels. I conceptualize PR from a critical theoretical perspective as process of problematization, as process of cracking open common sense and underlying systems of power and norms in an organization. Then I offer strategies for creating shared (communication) spaces in which to imagine and experience transformation and social change. In these spaces (huddles), good life is courageously problematized to offer a new narrative of sustainability including DEI as communicatively codesigned. The aim is to highlight opportunities and tools for PR practitioners and PR scholars to be revolutionary – more than an organization's conscience, but an agent of change for exciting, innovative, and transformative communication practices at the core of the discipline.

Afterword

Pages 207-208
Content available

Index

Pages 209-214
Content available
Cover of Public Relations for Social Responsibility
DOI
10.1108/9781800431676
Publication date
2021-06-10
Book series
Communicating Responsible Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion
Editor
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-80043-168-3
eISBN
978-1-80043-167-6