Gonca Karakaş, 25 May 2021: As the CEO of Effect BCW and President of TÜHİD /Turkish Public Relations Organization, I feel proud to be a second term board member of Global Alliance which has now 14 female members in a total of 21, making it an ecosystem that is mostly shaped by women. But of course, these women are not selected just because they are women; they are simply working hard for our industry and representing national NGOs.
It would be fair to say that TÜHİD, one of the oldest non-profit professional organizations of Turkey founded in 1972, owes a lot to women as well. Up to this day, women have played an important role in making TÜHİD an effective and reliable platform that unites PR professionals and contributes to the sector in so many ways since 75% of TÜHİD members are women.
Putting aside the fact that the women presence in the PR sector is deeply vital and precious, there is now a bigger picture for every one of us to see. Throughout the pandemic, we observed that the companies and organizations we work with are raising their sustainability awareness at all levels. First of all, contrary to what was expected, remote and hybrid working models contributed to the team spirit instead of crushing it. As the social distance increased, managers realized the fact that they had to be more engaged with their employees on different levels. As a result of this pandemic driven “awakening”, more companies started to enhance themselves in terms of diversity and inclusion as well. For me, it was one of the best things that shone through all the hardship we’ve faced in the last year: Understanding and accepting one another.
I believe that diversity and inclusion should be considered as an integral part of every organization’s DNA. In today’s world, this is the only way to empower our teams if we want smarter teams and contribute in creating a better tomorrow. You must have heard the African proverb, saying “if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together”. This sums up the vision of inclusion so well. We want to go far, and it is only possible if we include every single person who are willing and able to accompany us on our journey. There are billions of people who want to achieve more, but have a different set of circumstances, abilities and backgrounds that often limit their access to opportunity and achievement. The better we represent that diversity inside our companies and engage our people, the better we’re able to innovate for those we seek to empower.
Diversity and inclusion are two pivotal subjects that go hand in hand. Merging them in perfect balance is not an easy job because it requires commitment and practice. You have to set a goal and work tirelessly in order to make it a part of your corporate culture. At BCW, we each strive to include others by holding ourselves accountable for diversity, driving change in our workplace and workforce, and creating an inclusive work environment. Through this commitment we can give everyone the chance to be their authentic selves and do their best work every day. We do not have white, black, LGBT, disabled, Muslim, Christian or Atheist employees in our office. We have people. I think that might be the key to maintain a diverse and peaceful work environment; to internalize the fact that there are no minorities.
I am glad to be able to share my thoughts on this matter, as I truly believe that PR agencies play a crucial role in shaping how society perceives global companies. As PR professionals, we will keep walking alongside our clients through thick and thin; learning, experiencing, growing and inspiring each other, every day, all together.
While fighting different battles in different fronts, women in our sector do an admirable job in guiding their clients, creating solid content, running campaigns and managing crisis, all in great harmony to build shared habits on this context. Inclusive actions and behaviors, consciously managing bias, mirroring the marketplace of all stakeholders, including considerations for ethnicity/race, gender, sexual orientation and religion as well as disabilities should an integral part of doing business.
Gonca Karakaş is CEO of Effect BCW and President of TÜHİD – Turkish Public Relations Organization