Washington, D.C. (December 1, 2011) – APCO Worldwide today received the “Best PR Firm Diversity Initiative” diversity distinction award by the Council of Public Relations Firms and PRWeek.
This new award program aims to address the problem of attaining a more diverse workforce at all levels and recognizes a firm’s commitment to a diverse and equitable workplace, developed through training and advancement opportunities.
“Our unique corporate culture truly sets us apart, and we are so pleased to be recognized for our commitment to diversity and inclusion,” said Nelson Fernandez, managing director of APCO’s New York office and the company’s chief diversity officer.
Following is an excerpt from a PRWeek article about the award winners:
APCO Worldwide won the Best PR Firm Diversity Initiative by impressing the judges with a holistic, multifaceted dedication to instilling a culture of diversity and acceptance throughout the global firm. This category recognizes an agency's commitment to a diverse and equitable workplace, developed through training and advancement opportunities.
The firm initiated a diversity and inclusion program two years ago. It believed it could be “the best place for diverse talent to work in the communications industry,” which would also provide it a competitive advantage.
APCO sought to create a program that would resonate with the whole firm, not just diverse employees. It instituted many initiatives to create companywide buy-in, including a lunch-and-learn series on the power of diversity and inclusion; mandated training for new staff and senior managers; and small touches such as an explanatory email of the history of a holiday anytime an APCO office closed in observance. One judge praised its “innovative” approach, which led to a “cultural shift” toward diversity and inclusion.
The firm also established external partners in its diversity and inclusion program, including CEO Margery Kraus' alma mater American University in Washington, D.C., where APCO has its headquarters; 826, a non-profit dedicated to improving urban youth's reading and writing skills; and the National Press Club's Beat the Deadline 5K: A Race for Diversity in Journalism.
APCO says the program has led to a “greater appreciation about cultural differences” at the firm, as well as an increase in overall diversity, including a 19-percent boost in the number of minorities in client-facing roles. Among those hired between March 2010 and March 2011, 21.5 percent were minorities. Additionally, 51 employees are participating in its mentoring programs this year. “Leadership clearly gets it,” said another judge.
Submissions were accepted from U.S.-based PR firms of all sizes. Winners in three categories – Best PR Firm Diversity Initiative, Best PR Firm Community Initiative, and Diversity Champion – were selected by an experienced judging panel that included Richard Jones, SVP and CCO, The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America; corporate comms consultant Jaya Bohlmann; David Albritton, VP and CCO, ITT Exelis; Carol Evans, president of Working Mother Media and CEO of Diversity Best Practices; Lagrant Communications CEO and Lagrant Foundation chairman Kim Hunter; Katie McBride, executive director of GM Community Connections; and Shannelle Armstrong, PR director at Sears Holdings.
About APCO Worldwide
Founded in 1984, APCO Worldwide is an award-winning, independently owned global communication consultancy with offices in major cities throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., APCO clients include corporations and governments; industry associations and nonprofit organizations; and six of the top 10 companies on the Fortune 500. APCO offers services related to business, industry and finance; media, public opinion and society; and government and public policy. The firm is a majority women-owned business. For more information, please visit www.apcoworldwide.com.