Master of Communications Management

Leading Change: MCM Commitment to EDIB

An open letter to my fellow communicators by Sara Goldvine, MCM, APR

You’ve blown me away.


When our small collective of allied professionals put out the call for communications and public relations leaders to join discussions for an anti-racism summit next year, we were hoping for 20 or 30 participants. Within the first week, more than 230 of you signed up.


This outpouring of support has reaffirmed one of the things I most love about this profession: it draws people who want to make the world a better place.

Take a moment, and think back to what first drew you to communications or public relations.


I can remember the moment clearly. I was working in research, and one day my organization’s Director of Communications suggested I join their team meeting. At the time, I saw the communicators as change agents; the opportunity to be part of their conversation, even as a only-sort-of-invited guest, was exciting enough to tamp down my anxiety around crashing their meeting.

To everyone’s surprise, when they had their next team meeting I walked into the room and pulled a chair up at the table. I don’t recall what we discussed during that meeting, but when the next position came available, I applied.


We talk a lot in this profession about getting a seat at the table. It’s a metaphor that’s always resonated with me, particularly since I got my start when someone in a position of power invited me to pull up a chair.

But when we look around the table that is our profession, we’re missing a lot of people. The reality is, our profession is disproportionately people like me: white, cis-gendered women.

Based on your response to our call to action, many of you agree that we need to pull more chairs up to the table. I expect you also recognize that it’s not good enough to bring people to the table—we need to listen and tap into people’s diverse perspectives to meaningfully influence strategy and systems.


Just imagine what we can achieve with a bigger and more inclusive table where everyone truly belongs.


Communications leaders (and yes, I mean all kinds of “leaders”, including those whose job title doesn’t spell that out) have a powerful opportunity. As the stewards of an organization’s relationships with people and communities, we combine a cross-functional approach to strategy with a central focus on the public good. Put simply, you can’t develop a sound strategy without listening, and you can’t deliver on that strategy without social licence.


To do this well, we need to ask: who are we listening to? And who is doing the listening?


There has never been a more important time for communications and public relations. We started the year with a country-wide conversation about the impact of reconciliation on resource development (or lack thereof), moved by the spring into global pandemic largely mediated through communications, experienced a summer of public discourse around racial justice, and are just wrapping up a fall dominated by elections in multiple jurisdictions where all of these themes were front and centre.


The thread that binds all of these conversations is communications. As a society, we use language and story to build narratives that reinforce the power of some groups and oppress that of others.


Many of you see the impacts of these systemic injustices every day, in the form of health, social, educational, economic, and environmental outcomes. Some of you have been aware of the root causes of these issues for your entire lives. Others, like me, have come to this understanding through your education, your career, or even the events of this year.


No matter how you got here, I am glad you’re here now.


So I ask you: do you want real change? Do you want to change our profession, our organizations, our communities, our society for the better?


To realize our potential as a profession, we need to do the work in ourselves and in our profession, so that we can take that leadership role in our organizations and in our communities.


Are you up for that? Here’s three steps you can take right now:


  1. Sign up to be part of our first discussion on November 12, and watch our space for further updates as we move toward a national summit next year.
  2. Catch up the discussions that led to this, by watching the MCM Tuesday Talks hosted by McMaster University over the summer about anti-racism and equity.
  3. Commit to learn and unlearn, so that you can come to the discussion with a base of understanding that you can build on. There are some helpful resources on the MCM website, click here to view them.

Thank you for joining us, and helping drive the next evolution of our profession.