Episode 43 of Circle of Fellows — back in March 2019 — addressed the communicator’s role in supporting their companies’ diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts. The topic has undergone a dramatic transformation since then and, notably, since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Suddenly, companies that had merely checked the D&I box are revisiting their commitments and introducing more meaningful policies and practices, in addition to taking direct action.
IABC revisited the topic in the August episode of Circle of Fellows. Five IABC Fellows — Priya Bates, Neil Griffiths, Todd Hattori, Rajeev Kumar, and Brenda Siler — joined moderator Shel Holtz for an updated conversation about the communicator’s role in evaluating and promoting D&I; including best practices in language and visual representation.
About the panel
Priya Bates is a senior communication executive who provides strategic internal communication counsel in order to ensure leaders, managers, and employees understand the strategy, believe in the vision, act in accordance with the values, and contribute to business results. She is president of Inner Strength Communications in Toronto and previously served as senior director of Internal Communications at Loblaw Companies Limited.
Neil Griffiths, ABC, Chart.PR, IABC Fellow, is Senior Manager, Global Communication & Global Inclusion Lead at ERM, the world’s largest sustainability consultancy. Neil has worked in communication management for 15+ years in public, private and non-profit organizations. Neil is a serial volunteer and has held a number of leadership positions on global committees within IABC, including the inaugural Global Communications Certification Council. Neil was Chair of the 2018 IABC World Conference to be held in Montreal in June 2018. He has been recognized with awards for his leadership within the profession, being made IABC Fellow in June 2019. Together with co-author Deborah Hinton, Neil has published two studies on the current and future state of the communication profession and has spoken on the topic at several conferences. Neil holds the Freedom of London and is a member of the Company of Public Relations Practitioners.
Todd Hattori — After 20+ years of leading in-house communication functions within a variety of organizations and industries, Todd “Tosh” Hattori, ABC, IABC Fellow was drawn to the consulting world by PeopleFirm’s core business philosophy: your people = your success. He leads PeopleFirm’s organization design community of practice, engaging and collaborating with cross-functional teams to address business challenges by designing solutions with their people in mind. Outside of his client work, he serves on the volunteer board of directors for the Technology Access Foundation, a national model / leader in providing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education to students of color; and improving teacher diversity and retention of teachers of color in Washington. He currently serves as the IABC Ethics Committee vice chair.
In a career spanning roles as a colonel in the Army, a Ph.D. in organizational communication (Fulbright Fellow) and professor in a business school, a communication consultant, teacher and trainer, Rajeev Kumar is an author and recognized speaker with a significant profile regionally, across many cultures and languages. Rajeev has a strong commitment to the profession and IABC, demonstrated through local and regional and international leadership roles. Rajeev’s work and references reinforce his commitment to the IABC values and he is a brand ambassador for the association in all aspects of his professional life.
Brenda C. Siler is a journalist and public relations strategist. She is currently director for partner relations for 2020 Census at Quantasy + Associates. Siler is an award-winning organizational communications leader who has headed national, regional, and local communications programs. A few of those organizations include AARP, the Council on Competitiveness, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the American Red Cross, United Way, and UNCF-the United Negro College Fund. At UNCF, Siler managed the rebranding for the scholarship fund retaining its iconic tagline “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” Siler was the “first person of color” to serve as chairperson for the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), an association for organizational communicators with 15,000-members from 80 countries. She led a 25-member international executive board and a six-member executive committee. Siler has written articles and chapters in industry training manuals for PR News, Ragan Report, and IABC. In June 2017, Siler was inducted as an IABC Fellow. Siler is also a contributing writer for the Washington Informer, the oldest Black and female-owned newspaper in Washington, DC. The topics she has covered include STEM, HBCUs, and the arts. Siler, a native Washingtonian is an alumna of Spelman College and currently resides in Silver Spring, Maryland.