by Tanya Jogee, a communications professional with 25 years of experience in corporate communications, political campaign messaging, culture strategy, marketing, online writing, and journalism.
The recent siege of the U.S. Capitol and the senseless killings of numerous black Americans at the hands of police left me (like many Americans) feeling hopeless, frustrated, and wondering if and when peace, justice, and racial harmony could ever be achieved in our country. At the same time, I’ve been hearing the words of Martin Luther King Jr. ringing in my ears: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
When I came across the request from WCA to be part of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) task force last summer, it sounded like a tangible way to help some amazing communications professionals (and friends) drive awareness and action about issues that were becoming more and more passionate to me, not to mention intensified in society at large. I was all in. Sign me up!
One of the silver linings of the pandemic is having extra time to learn about the stories and experiences of marginalized and discriminated communities including Blacks, Indigenous People, Latinos, LGBTQ, people with disabilities, Muslims, and most recently, Asians. Despite my own marginalized story and lived experiences as the daughter of Pakistani Muslim immigrants raised in a predominantly white Christian neighborhood in Canada, I had a lot to learn.
2020 was about immersing myself in an awareness campaign – hungrily consuming as much media as I could. I watched movies and documentaries (“Just Mercy,” “The Help,” “13th”); read books (White Fragility, Becoming); listened to podcasts (1619, Code Switch) and participated in numerous meetings and webinars. In the process, I became hyper-attuned to stereotypes, generalizations, micro-aggressions, negative/unfair perceptions, double standards, systemic inequities and institutionalized racism – and also learned about the importance of being proactively anti-racist.
The big takeaways? The WCA DE&I task force was a great step in the right direction. And just as important – this was a conversation that had been going on for a long time, and will continue to go on for a long time. In short, friends – we are in this for the long haul.
Starting in August 2020, our task force met for three productive two-hour long sessions. Here is a summary of our final recommendations, which are currently being reviewed by the WCA Board:
- Establish a Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DE&I) Advisory Group
- Create DE&I checklists and responsibilities for each Board role
- Honestly assess the organization and self-reflect on key strategic questions related to DE&I
- Publicize this initiative to WCA membership and keep them updated on DE&I efforts
I know that all the members of our task force – Gina Helfrich, Maria Rios, Andrea Exter, Ellen Decareau, June Lien, Jeretta Hartfield, and Lani Rosales – are jazzed about our recommendations. After all, women as a whole have been excluded from important conversations and positions of power throughout history, so we sure as heck understand the importance of making spaces inclusive and welcoming!
I can tell you personally that I’m super excited about our work and its far-reaching potential to build bridges instead of barriers. And I’m also excited to help our members – and all the people and organizations we impact – become more knowledgeable, empathetic and unequivocally pumped to stand up for inclusion, justice and equity throughout WCA and the communications industry at large.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
After deciding they had had enough mid-western winters to last several lifetimes, Tanya Jogee hauled her bad ass self and her family from Chicago to Austin in 2015. Since then, she has become actively involved with social issues and local politics. She recently graduated from Leadership Austin’s Essential class of 2020; became a mentee in The New Philanthropists Board Mentors of Color Program; represented District 6 on the Commission for Women; and served on Austin City Council Member Jimmy Flannigan’s political leadership team.
Recently, Tanya has been working on culture initiatives for her client Accenture, a $44B professional services company with 500,000 employees around the world. Her work has helped transform the workplace culture into one where employees care for each other above all else, have a sense of belonging and closeness with their teams, and feel secure enough to be entrepreneurial, innovative and their truly human, authentic selves at work.
Tanya is interested in using her experience and expertise to further advance social reform in Austin, and to help organizations become more inclusive, real, diverse and woke to racial and social injustices in their workplaces.