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DEI & Guidance on Responding to Current Events

Sadly, our society hasn’t seen the last example of racial, gender, gender identity, disability, or sexual orientation injustice. Those and other groups need to know that the communities they take part in have zero tolerance for such injustices. Communicating statements about your chapter’s beliefs are the first step in offering such assurances. 

The PCC believes that all community members should feel they can contribute and engage with an AMA chapter in a safe and supportive environment. By showing solidarity for all community members during times of trauma and crisis, the PCC believes that we are living our organization’s mission which states that “AMA strives to be the most relevant force and voice shaping marketing worldwide, an essential community for marketers.”

During the civil rights protests and demonstrations of 2020, the PCC members met with him and several Support Center leaders and Russ Klien’s, CEO of the AMA, invitation. They articulated the concerns of our chapter leaders regarding guidance for professional chapter leaders on issuing statements during times of civil or human rights crises. This document results from those efforts and the ongoing work of the Professional Chapters Council’s DEI Committee.

Be prepared. Prepare a generic statement now—-have discussions with your board, circulate drafts, and garner approvals–so when a crisis hits, you can be fast to react and have the backs of all your community members during times of crisis.

Be honest. It’s ok not to know everything (or anything!) about such issues. What matters is that you’re listening to the conversation and empathetic to the pain it is causing your community members.

Be direct. Use direct language, and recognize that these issues disproportionately affect the people at the center of the controversy.

Be a-political. Civil and human rights are only political if we make them so. Policies surrounding how we go about protecting these rights in our society may be, but human and civil rights violations are not. Your message is simple: You have the backs of everyone in your community.

Be big-picture. Recognize that the crisis at hand is a reflection of a larger issue that has deep and long-running historical roots. Especially to the communities most affected, the only thing new about these issues is the degree to which they have risen in the national conversation at the time.

Be OK with mistakes. Someone might take issue with the wording or approach to your communications. It’s OK. No one is perfect. See it as an opportunity to learn and get better. We recommend dropping the defenses, listening, and communicating back what you’ll do differently next time.

Be sensitive to your community. Often these are national conversations, but your community’s values and reality will vary.

Ease up on the promotions. Many brands mute advertisements to sell products or services during sensitive times. Promotions can be perceived as tone-deaf or worse. Unless your event promotion is related to DEI, justice, or otherwise taking action relevant to the issue, consider muting it.

Helpful Resources

Do you need help crafting or reviewing your statements or want to talk more about your chapter’s DEI efforts? Contact your PCC leadership advisor, and they can help or connect you with chapter leaders who have covered this ground before.

The AMA Pro Chapter Leaders Slack Team is another excellent place to connect with leaders and share best practices.

The DEI Resources Corner is a PCC-managed, living repository of DEI resources, including recent statements chapters have crafted and descriptions for DEI roles on the board. 

Monthly PCC and DEI Committee Video Conferences are a way to ask and share information “in person.” The PCC hosts a monthly video conference for chapter leaders on the second Tuesday of each month, and the DEI Task Force hosts a DEI Townhall for AMA leaders to share ideas, express challenges, and have the ear of the PCC and Support Center. Links to these events vary; please refer to Support Center’s monthly Chapter Chapter Leaders Resources email.