Yanique Woodall, Head of Brand Communications at The Home Depot, Shares Diverse Voices Insights
New York Book Launch: Increasing Diversity in PR
Yanique Woodall, Head of Brand Communications at The Home Depot, was co-chair to the New York Book Launch of Diverse Voices, a collaborate piece featuring the stories of 40 extraordinary communicators. She spoke with Doug Simon, CEO at D S Simon Media, about achieving career success while bringing diversity to an organization. The interview took place at Twitter, where the book launch was held. The new book from the PRSA Foundation is designed to help communication leaders and professionals better understand the challenges faced by emerging majorities in the field. Yanique reviews how valuable a mentor can be to young individuals starting out in the field. To purchase Diverse Voices, visit www.diverseleadership.net.
Make sure to check out similar Diverse Voices Interview:
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Emile Lee, Dun & Bradstreet
Michael Sneed, Johnson & Johnson
Mike Fernandez, LLORENTE & CUENCA
Lisa Ross, Edelman
Torod Neptune, Lenovo
Brenden Lee, Twitter
Manuel Goncalves, KPMG
DOUG: Hi I’m Doug Simon from D S Simon Media. I’m here at the New York book launch for Diverse Voices. One of the people who made that happen, Yanique Woodall, head of brand communications at the Home Depot who’s co-chair for this event and a member of the board of directors of the PRSA Foundation. Thanks so much for being with us.
YANIQUE: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me.
DOUG: Tell us about the importance of this Diverse Voices project, now that you’re here at the launch in New York.
YANIQUE: I’ve been amazed by these stories that have been told in this book. I think it’s an example that works for young emerging talent, and I think it’s examples that works for established leaders in the importance of diversity, the importance of mentoring candidates as they’re coming into organization. I think it’s important to recruit diverse talent but what’s even more important is how do we mentor them once they cross the line and have a seat at the table?
DOUG: Great. So maybe from your own experience, and you’ve been so successful in your career, how do you help mentor some of the young talent that brings diversity to your own organization?
YANIQUE: One: I remind myself every day how it was, you never forget how you got started and what your journey has looked like. And the second is I try to do it on the academic side, so I teach. Hofstra University, George Washington University, so that has been helpful. And then of course obviously through PRSA so students that contact us or are in chapters on the campus that say we’re interested in PR, how do I get started? A lot of this is about exposure. And when you have someone who’s young and they’re interested, and they’re motivated taking them under your wing and helping them along the way and learning how to navigate helps a great deal.
DOUG: Yeah and people often make a quote excuse “Oh I would hire more diverse people if I could find them.” They’re not necessarily looking at the right places. I know events that cater to diversity in communication. That’s a great way to find young people who are interested trying to improve themselves.
YANIQUE: I think that’s two things. So one looking at events such as this where there are a group of professionals that are focused on diversity and inclusion in organizations that may have their finger on the pulse and looking for candidates, and then I think the other part is as we lead and we meet people we think about that in our own networks. So we make that a part of our DNA of who we are.
DOUG: That’s interesting. Now, what you know in your own life have you faced obstacles as anyone does in their career, as you read some of these stories where some of it was outright racism, others were micro aggressions, whether purposeful or in hostile or just clueless and unaware, and is there even a difference, have you faced some of those and what is your counsel?—especially for people early in their career where it’s much harder to make noise about something, on how to handle it to move ahead.
YANIQUE: So I think that’s a very good question, especially looking at it from a younger talent perspective. I think as an established leader it’s important for us to look at younger talent and try to help them grow. But I think from a younger talent standpoint I was always the person looking for individuals out there who were doing well in their career and gaining their perspective and helped me navigate. Mentorship was a key to my success thus far.
DOUG: Now when you look for mentors as a young diverse talent, we’re getting near the end of this conversation, is it limited to people who have had the diverse experience? Obviously there’s more shared people that relatable, or should you look for mentors just for anyone that you respect?
YANIQUE: I think it’s anyone that you respect because I think they’re important their opinion is extremely important. I think when you are facing tough situations it’s important to get everyone’s perspective, and that doesn’t matter from what background you are, what gender you are, it all makes up one big story and it’s important to understand exactly all sides of a story.
DOUG: Well you’ve helped tell an amazing story with this book. I hope all the folks out there purchase it. You can go to it at the PRSA Foundation site, there’ll be links below this comment. And as we share it it’s really exciting to be part of this event. Thanks for spending time with us.
YANIQUE: Thank you for your support.
D S Simon Media is proud to donate its services in support of the Diverse Voices Initiative.