by Yanira Gonzalez, Manager, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Can you remember a time when you heard a story so captivating and compelling that it changed your mindset, taught you something new, perhaps expanded your empathy, or drove you to action? Likely, your answer is “yes”. Before the inventions of writing and print, storytelling bound ancient societies. Our world is much more complex now than it was in the ages of cave paintings, hieroglyphics, and mythology, and yet, we can see that the impact of storytelling is consistent despite the different mediums in which these tales can now be expressed. For PR in particular, storytelling has become an important tool to elevate brands beyond the clutter of messaging permeating cyberspace, and tickle audiences’ brains in a way that other content cannot. We have seen the highs and lows of it all, from witnessing how a story can drive an insurrection, to how it can bring people together amidst a global pandemic. Just last month, Golin had a seat to discuss this very topic of storytelling at the ColorComm conference, a conference for women of color in the field of communications. Our panelist, Mimi Dixon of Crayola, used the opportunity to spotlight the “Colors of the World” initiative done in collaboration with Golin.
As we know, stereotypes exist as barriers to the success of WoC in the workplace, and it is ever-important that we deploy tools like storytelling to counteract this. It is commonly known that women, and more particularly, women of color, are paid significantly less on the dollar than their male counterparts, but this is far from being the only challenge they face. Often, being a WoC in the workplace is a thankless job, one in which you are not only encouraged, but expected to work well beyond the point of exhaustion and often to the point of physical illness and, in some cases, even death. Studies continue to show how women of color experience greater stress and burnout in the workplace than their white and male counterparts, and that persistent workplace stress can have serious health implications, sometimes resulting in heart disease and stroke. Not only are we extremely overworked, but as thanks for that, we are often dismissed, overlooked, unappreciated, and disregarded.
While the onus for change does not lie on WoC, the truth is that our stories have the power to increase visibility and inspire change. We witnessed this with the “Colors of the World” campaign, and saw firsthand how it was able to foster a sense of hope, inclusion, and belonging among people dealing with the new weight of a pandemic, and during a period of racial strife following the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. All around the world, people of color shared personal and emotionally compelling stories about their childhood, or about their parenthood, and what it meant to them to finally have a pack of crayons in which they felt represented. Today, Golin is connecting with women of color in the professional world to help them see and understand the importance of broadcasting their voices and sharing their stories. Someone, somewhere, will hear your story and see themselves in it, or empathize with it in some way, and that is where positive change is born.
For anyone out there reading this and feeling inspired to share their personal story, here are a few things for you to remember: 1) You are powerful and your voice deserves to be heard, 2) Know who you are and be authentic to that, 3) Be real and don’t hold back your truth, and 4) Empower your audience so that they too can share their stories with the world. Change begins with us.