Calls for greater social justice in the United States – and around the world – following the murder of George Floyd in 2020 raised awareness of the urgent need for greater diversity, equity and inclusion (DE+I) initiatives. These calls were particularly strong within the communications field, and while Padilla had begun its DE+I program in earnest in 2019, the murder of George Floyd, which happened only a few miles from our headquarters, compelled us to accelerate our efforts.
We recognized that we needed a holistic approach to strengthen our commitments and actions toward addressing the industry’s DE+I challenge with innovative and effective initiatives. To proactively develop a DE+I program to bolster diversity at all levels, we began by reiterating our commitment to DE+I clearly, then we walked the walk.
Padilla established a Diversity + Inclusion Council to ensure we are being intentional in creating a more diverse work environment. The Council – with guidance from Senior Leadership – focuses on the following key areas: Recruitment, Training, Retention and Content, which includes content we develop for ourselves and our clients.
DE+I client counsel is part of work we provide within our Corporate Advisory Group – and specifically, the Social Impact team. We also appointed a VP for Workplace Culture and DE+I, who serves as a member of our Senior Leadership Team. To supplement Padilla’s internal expertise, the DE+I Collective, comprised of external advisors, helps to ensure an inclusive and culturally appropriate approach to public relations and communications for our agency and clients.
When our recruitment process revealed missed opportunities to connect with and hire more diverse candidates, senior leaders had candid conversations with hiring managers about the importance of their role in the agency’s commitment to DE+I recruitment and hiring efforts. We strengthened relationships with diverse organizations and participated in college recruitment events and class presentations with various universities, including HBCUs. For the past two years, we’ve participated in the PR Council’s Agency-Ready Certificate Program, where we provided DE+I content. Additionally, we’re one of six agencies that established the Twin Cities PR BIPOC Career Explorer, a paid externship program that introduces BIPOC college students to the communications field.
To honor Juneteenth, Padilla established a Diversity + Inclusion Day of Service. The agency offers employees one day off annually to perform community service related to DE+I.
At the end of September 2021, Padilla’s BIPOC employee base was approximately 15%, a more than five percent increase since we implemented our DE+I plan in June 2020. The progress we’ve made – including greater diversity among our employee ranks – has emboldened our commitment to contributing to DE+I solutions within our industry, and the industries that our clients represent.