PR’s Top Pros Talk… Social Justice – Donovan Thompson

The time to speak up is now. Executive producer of The Grapevine, Donovan Thompson, breaks down the current state of diversity and racial awareness in the workplace and shares thoughts on the effective ways to implement change.


PRWeek reported that only 13% of the leaders in PR agencies are non-white, even after five years of trying to increase diversity in the industry. This is a trend that goes beyond the PR field; black people are underrepresented in leadership roles across all industries. As a result, there is no one to speak to the diversity and colorism, says Donovan. He encourages that organizations allow diverse people to be experts in diversity, without alienating them. Donovan stresses the importance of empowering black employees with actual leadership roles, instead of just giving them diversity positions.


Diversifying your organizations could be tricky. Should the companies be explicit about their efforts? Donovan emphasizes that they need to be very overt about it, they need to make a real effort. Black employees find it complicated to speak out about systemic racism, fearing that it will follow them throughout their careers and create obstacles along the way. This is why it’s imperative for organizations to lead the way intentionally, allowing black people to take charge and encourage these conversations from the top down.


It’s ok to have awkward conversations, everyone needs to sweat a little bit, says Donovan. For employees, now is the time to speak up, advocate for changes that you’d like to see in the workplace and offer your services. Donovan is convinced that if organizations allow black people to be their full selves, it will revolutionize and promote the business in ways you wouldn’t imagine.

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