Leading the Charge: Female Leaders Advance DEI Initiatives through Employee Empowerment

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Taylor & Francis

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Journal of Public Relations Research

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DOI: 10.1080/1062726X.2023.2227302


Today the public relations industry faces the challenge of championing and executing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. Women leaders in public relations are well situated to do this work and drive meaningful change. A grounded theory approach was chosen to analyze narratives from the honorees of PRWeek’s Women of Distinction classes from the last three years. We argue that female public relations leaders are advancing the conversation related to DEI initiatives to empower their organizations and, in turn, shape the larger societal discourse on DEI. Our thematic analysis of narratives by female leaders in public relations resulted in four broad themes: 1) practicing empathetic leadership and building meaningful connections, 2) reimagining the workplace and workplace culture, 3) showing a commitment to and celebration of DEI efforts, and 4) championing purpose-driven work and organizations. This project contributes to the limited work on public relations, diversity, and leadership, and presents important theoretical and practical implications.


Journal of Public Relations Research, Vol. 35, No. 5-6 (2023): 339-356. DOI.