The Association for Business Communication Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Committee serves advocacy, consciousness-raising, and recruitment functions, alerting all members and committees of ABC to benefit from inclusiveness in membership, participation, perspectives, and thinking. This committee helps ensure that ABC meets the needs of historically under-represented groups in the profession and globally, welcomes all members and participants, embraces a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and actively seeks members of all backgrounds.
The Chair of the committee is Jacqui Lowman. The chair also serves as the ABC Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator and thus is a non-voting member of the ABC Board of Directors. As such, the Chair/Coordinator is able to be a force for DEI year round, serving as a bridge and conduit between the ABC leadership, the D&I Committee members, and all ABC members. The Chair/Coordinator is thus able to continually create (in consultation with the committee) and advocate for projects and actions to advance DEI both within and without ABC. One of our goals is to make ABC a leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion within business communication, academia, business—anywhere that we can reach and influence.
The D&I Committee has accomplished a number of projects over the last several years and is continuing to pursue more. It has created a Distinction in the Practice of Diversity and Inclusion Award that attracts submissions of ground-breaking work every year. It sponsors lightning rounds of an incredible breath of work in several How Do You Teach Diversity and Inclusion? sessions at the annual ABC International Conference. It has created an Accessibility Checklist to be used when evaluating any ABC meeting venue. It has worked to increase accessibility of ABC materials. It has drafted an ABC Diversity and Inclusion Statement and assisted with the drafting of the Social Justice Statement–both now available on the ABC website. It has created a robust ABC Ambassador Program, with various strands of mentoring and support.
The program shows great promise and we are continuing to expand and develop it. It is advocating for increased recognition of local inhabitants and cultures of the places at which we hold physical meetings. We have plans to gradually roll out a video series, starting in 2021. We will be asking our ABC members for their opinions on different DEI topics. The first topic will deal with Social Justice. The videos will be short (30 seconds to 2.5 minutes) and posted internally on the ABC website to stimulate and encourage supportive discussion and constructive thinking. The idea is to roll out a small collection of these videos every quarter. We see this as an ongoing project for the long haul. Once we have tapped many who want to share their thoughts on Social Justice, we will move on to other aspects of DEI.
If you as an ABC member want to be involved, you are most welcome to join our committee. You can reach out to the D&I Committee Chair. You can be as involved as you wish. Also, many of our initiatives, such as the video series, will be open to all ABC members.
As we all know, DEI is really under siege right now, not just in the U.S., but globally. Taking a stand on any DEI issues can expose people to at least verbal attacks. People are afraid that being advocates may hurt their careers. It’s easy for people to think, as professional communicators, what can we do?
You can do a lot. The marginalized people in this country and around the globe are struggling to find their voices and to be heard. As experts in the areas of business, professional, and public communication, we hold a lot of power and ability to effect positive change. We are looking for people who are looking for ways to employ this expertise for the civic good, or who are already incorporating DEI into their teaching and practice. We are looking for people who want to learn new strategies and are willing to share their own best practices. We would love, for example, to have many more people participate in “How Do You Teach Diversity and Inclusion?” lightning rounds at each conference. If you have ideas, we will find ways to share them with our membership, incorporate them in our policies and plans, and engage you in the implementation process. We already have a set of methods and you could join us so that you could help this committee expand upon those.
If you have ideas, suggestions, questions, or would just like a receptive person with whom to brainstorm about DEI, you can reach out to Jacqui Lowman: firstname.lastname@example.org.