This Week in PR Ethics (6/11/20): Taking a Stand and Racism in Tech Terms

Ethical issues continued to be at the forefront this week and the various articles I saw reinforced one point – being ethical is not just about saying the right thing, it is about taking action. This was driven home by Mike Paul, the PRISA, and brands that are doing and not just saying.

  • Taking a stand – Mike Paul is one of the industry’s most prominent voices on ethics. This week he took a stand (as he has done many times in the past) and resigned from the Diversity Action Alliance because of the “lack of commitment, with full transparency and accountability, to actually hire and retain more senior executives of color (VP or above) into agencies and corporate communications divisions in leading corporations in America.” We need to move beyond talk, and this is a great example of someone standing up for their ethical principles and working to drive change. We should all pay attention and commit to making measurable change.
  • Words aren’t enough – From the Business Roundtable statement in August 2019, to the collection of brand commentary over the past few months, brands are “taking a stand.” This interesting article on Verge reinforces some thing I have been saying – actions, not words matter and we need to be authentic in what we do.
  • But does tech use racist language – While words are not enough, should we examine our language to remove racist terms? C/net had an interesting piece this week looking at a new movement to eliminate the use of master/slave in tech.
  • Global violence against journalists – I like to look at issues outside the U.S. as well and this week the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa reinforced its commitment to the media and the ethical free flow of information by strongly condemning violence against journalists by the Namibian government who were covering COVID-19.
Mark McClennan, APR, Fellow PRSA
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Mark W. McClennan, APR, Fellow PRSA, is the general manager of C+C's Boston office. C+C is a communications agency all about the good and purpose-driven brands. He has more than 20 years of tech and fintech agency experience, served as the 2016 National Chair of PRSA, drove the creation of the PRSA Ethics App and is the host of


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