Andy Checo discusses importance of D&I during DePaul class lecture taping.

By Lauren Scott

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, workforce demographics are changing at a rapid pace compromised of women making up almost half of the workforce and people of color expected to become the majority, within the decade. The PRSA Foundation and the Museum of Public Relations partnered to publish a textbook titled, “Diverse Voices: Profiles in Leadership”, which states, forty-three percent of millennials are people of color – the highest percentage of any generation. Diversity and inclusion in the workforce continues to play a vital role in the profitability, reputation, and productivity of companies.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Andy Checo, associate vice president at Havas FORMULATIN and president of the Hispanic Public Relations Association, to assess the critical role that diversity and inclusion plays in today’s public relations and advertising industry, as well as, some career advice that can be applied to every diverse voice in the industry. Diversity and inclusion remains a topic of conversation for the public relations industry, but it appears as if the profession is not executing and following through with action.

Andy offers the following advice to help improve diversity and inclusion efforts in the workforce:

Diversity and inclusion teams should be housed in the communications department.

As communicators, we often have a unique opportunity to touch multiple parts of a business and we craft messages that are intended to resonate with an assortment of audiences. Our responsibilities within these organizations allow us to highlight accomplishments that are aligned with companies’ objectives, as well as, helping to disseminate those messages to internal and external audiences. Checo believes, “if you’re in an organization that’s preaching about D&I efforts, those efforts have to be reflected at the top to make a change or a genuine impact.” Ideally, diversity and inclusion teams should live throughout the organization to help advance the message.

Representation, Advancement and Retention are components of an effective diversity and inclusion strategy.

According to “Diverse Voices: Profiles in Leadership”, forty-seven percent of millennials consider diversity and inclusion to be a determining factor in where they work. Diverse talent has to feel as if they are represented at an organization – especially among people in senior leadership positions – to feel a sense of belonging. When there’s representation, talent will begin to believe that there are advancement opportunities that are available and attainable. These efforts will impact how diverse talent is retained; To retain talent, especially diverse talent, one must feel as if they are a part of the organization. In addition to being paid adequately and consistently across the board. When you take money off of the table, a sense of belonging is valued within the amount of money someone is compensated, said Checo.

It’s everyone’s responsibility to get involved.

Inclusion is when employees feel as if they belong and are a part of something. Everyone can lean into improving diversity and inclusion efforts in the workforce, especially once you realize that everyone has a diverse voice. If the same organizations are being highlighted for diversity and inclusion efforts they should receive credit for remaining consistent. But, we should also highlight companies that are implementing these efforts and enforcing them at a rapid pace. Having a sense of community is created at every level, in every position at an organization.

Andy’s willingness to invest in young professionals and this industry reflects in the career advice that he offered me. The advice: take a team approach to elevate yourself and your career. Every professional should speak up and help drive strategy relating to diversity and inclusion efforts. If you’re expecting a change, you have to change it. When you approach your career as less about you and more about a team, you’re helping focus efforts on the “bigger picture” and moving the industry forward. Try to remember that it’s not about how you feel now, but what you are working towards. Intuitively we know that diversity and inclusion efforts matter, but now studies have shown how these efforts affect an organization’s bottom-line.

About Andy Checo

Andy has over 18 years of public relations and marketing communications experience – specializing in US Hispanic and multicultural markets. Andy’s experience comes from both the agency side and in-house dealing with a magnitude of brands in an assortment of sectors. Checo’s received his bachelor’s degree in public relations and international studies from Mount Saint Mary College in New York and received his Master’s from Middlebury College’s Language School in Vermont and Madrid. He’s also a graduate of the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ Institute of Advance Advertising Studies.

Lauren Scott works at Allstate in the Corporate Relations department. She is a proud Michigan State University alumna with a bachelor’s degree in organizational communication with a minor in public relations and advertising. This year, she will receive her graduate degree in PR and advertising from DePaul University. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with loved ones and drinking energy drinks or wasting time at a local coffee shop.