“We Need Storytellers” #MeToo Movement Founder Speaks at PPRA Annual Meeting
Tarana Burke Talks #MeToo at PPRA Annual Meeting
The Philadelphia Public Relations Association welcomed Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, to talk about her career as an organizer and advocate, as well as, the power of communication in social movement campaigns at the annual meeting on June 5.
Burke spoke about her journey as a social justice activist and what led her to #MeToo, the hashtag filling everyone’s social media newsfeeds. However, most relevant to the public relations audience attending the event, she spoke about her ability to communicate and organize on a grassroots level, her thoughts on the current media landscape, and public relations professionals’ role in recreating the narrative around sexual misconduct and other issues in American culture.
She said, “In this moment, the conversation in this country is all wrong, and one of the reasons why I’m excited to speak to a group of PR professionals is that you specialize in narrative change. At the end of the day, at the heart of your work, it is about shaping narratives. It is about telling the stories that inform people and shape their lives. You are an important part in a larger trajectory. We need storytellers.”
She emphasized that our culture has not yet shifted, but all of us in the public relations industry have the opportunity to help change it. Burke urged the PR professionals listening to her speech to fill in the gaps around the high profile media stories and help shift the attention to the survivor, not abuser.
How Business Has Reacted to the #MeToo Movement
Generally, the movement has caused companies to evaluate the reputational risk associated with sexual misconduct in the workplace and build a zero-tolerance policy in-house. For the industries that Furia Rubel works with regularly, the #MeToo movement is already making an impact and many survivors are telling their stories of not only sexual misconduct, but of workplace discrimination including unequal pay and lack of opportunity.
As legal marketers, we know that historically, the legal industry is not a friendly place for a woman to work. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was once even asked why she dare take the place of a male at Harvard law school. However, in the wake of #MeToo, law firms are becoming better places for women to work. A recent article in The American Lawyer reported, “data shows that since the allegations against disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein surfaced in October 2017 and spurred on the start of the #MeToo Movement, women have climbed the ranks at large law firms at a faster pace than before.” ALM Intelligence Legal Compass data also shows that 1,503 women were promoted to partner from Nov. 1, 2016 to Nov. 1, 2017. Since Nov. 1 2017, 1,724 women have promoted to partner.
Since November 2017, the available data demonstrates that law firms seem to be recognizing women more for their accomplishments. Many problems still exist and we will likely hear more #MeToo stories out of the industry, but diversity and inclusion will continue to be an important driving force in law firm strategy.
As one of the leading woman-owned and led Philadelphia public relations and marketing firms, we are dedicated to supporting women in business. If you want to tell the story of your women-owned business or female leadership in your business, give Furia Rubel a call at 215-340-0480. We would love to fill the gaps and encourage more successful storytelling around female leaders.