Understanding - The Modern Workforce


Last week I attended the PRCouncil’s “Critical Issues of the Modern Workforce” Forum. Full disclosure, I’m on the Board of the PRCouncil so I may be a bit biased.

The focus of the Forum was establishing and maintaining a culture of diversity and inclusion at work. The U.S. “Modern Workforce” is a diverse group indeed, essentially the most diverse ever. It’s important to not only recognize this but to embrace it. Embrace it and plan for it and manage it. We all know the benefits of a work environment that is diverse and inclusive.

The Forum topics included the LGBTQ+ community, having a purpose, disabilities, mental health, and even those who have served time for committing a crime. One speaker did the most easy-to-understand review of the generations that I have ever heard going from Gen Z to Millennials to Baby Boomers to The Silent Generation. It was a crash course focused on Millennials and I have to say I learned a lot. And I thought I already knew a lot. #ThoughtWrong. The “Blind Badass Girl in PR” was so breakthrough…her struggles to gain employment as a blind person was both shocking and inspiring at the same time. Throughout the morning I gained new insight on how to accommodate those with physical disabilities, the impact of mental health on feeling productive and accepted, and unconscious racial bias.

P&G spoke about their campaign “The Look,” which is a sequel to last year’s “The Talk” that addresses racial bias. I saw a preview of the campaign in Cannes this year, and knew it would get a lot of attention. If you haven’t seen it, here it is:

The most illuminating talk for me was from Chris Edwards, author of “Balls: It Takes Some to Get Some.” Chris is a transgender male (although he no longer considers himself to be transgender because he is fully transitioned) in the advertising business. His story of coming out at the age of five was nothing short of … awesome. Awesome because he gave me the understanding that I’ve been searching for.

I’ve been longing to understand more about what it’s like to be transgender. Although I struggled with my own sexual orientation, I never doubted that I was a man. Never once. I can’t imagine that. But I’ve wanted to be able to understand it. I’ve wanted to understand what it must feel like to have your head not match your body. Chris Edwards gave me a gift. I’m beginning to understand and I want to understand more.

Dare I say I learned more at this Forum than any other conference that I’ve been to. I gained some understanding! All of us are a part of The Modern Workforce, and it’s important for us to understand each other so that we can all work better together. And more happily, I might add.

What’s your experience? JIM