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Panel Discussion on Diversity Brings Professionals to School of Communications

Four professionals answered questions about experiences with diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace during a panel discussion 

On May 27, the School of Communications invited four panelists to join an online discussion focused on diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Around 70 people joined in through Zoom for the opportunity to join the discussion and engage in the Q&A. School of Communications professor and broadcast lab manager Melissa Gibbs organized the event, offered a welcome and introduced the panelists while BYU Comms senior Andrea Cabrera acted as the moderator for the panel.

Courtesy of Melissa Gibbs

The four panelists included: Valentina Almedia, associate strategy director at Boncom; Othello Richards, biometrics lab manager at BYU School of Communications; Jeremy Harris, reporter at KUTV Channel 2 News; and Nikki Walker, brand experience and community engagement director at Domo.

Questions ranged from tips on being an ally to steering clear of bias in the workplace. When the panelists were asked about ways students can be allies to the LGBTQ+ community, Richards and Harris offered a few insights.

“As a reporter, you’re going to meet people and do stories and some of them you just don’t agree with what they did,” said Richards. ”I think just accepting people for who they are, for what they are: their color, their gender, their age, anything. That’s just a key to everything. So if you want to be an ally, be an ally of inclusion and acceptance.”

Other questions included how to avoid stereotypes and assumptions about groups and minorities when identifying those groups for advertising.

“It is incredibly important to know the audience.It is always important to understand the needs by asking as opposed to assuming, because that’s where stereotypes come from,” said Walker. “When we don’t take the extra effort to actually engage with the community to find out what it is that they want, that’s kind of where we start to get into trouble. I always advise students and young professionals who are coming into the public relations industry to do as much research as you can. You gotta do all the reading, but it’s more important to touch the community. It’s more important to have real live conversation with real live people.”

As the panel came to a close, parting advice to students included be authentic, work hard, make the most of diversity in your workplaces and be hopeful.

To watch the entire panel discussion, visit BYU School of Communications Diversity Panel.