Diversity in the Industry with Lee Ann Kahlor
On February 22 and 23, the Stan Richards School (SRS) of Advertising and Public Relations will host a two-day conference focusing on diversity and inclusion in the industry called “Diversifying The Industry: The Jobs Not Done.” With topics ranging from entrepreneurial women to LGBTQ+ inclusivity, the five sessions aim to explore the reality of these truths and its effects on those involved. Lee Ann Kahlor, the minority liaison for the college and Diversity and Inclusion Student Council (DISC) founder, answered some questions regarding the conference as well as her personal experiences below.
1. Why did you choose to bring this conference to The University of Texas at Austin (UT)?
“After starting the Stan Richards School’s Diversity and Inclusion Student Council two years ago, and serving as the school’s minority liaison for many more years, it became clear that students and faculty were craving engagement with industry insights on how we can work together to push our fields more aggressively towards a diverse and inclusive reality.”
2. Can you share any personal experiences you've had in the industry relating to any of these topics?
“In my professional years as a journalist and a corporate communications specialist, I learned early on that I was viewed as less capable and less serious than my male colleagues. I worked very hard to project a serious attitude - skipping lunch to work at my desk, choosing only serious clothing, etc. In hindsight, those experiences really bum me out. I had to work so hard just to have place at the table and be seen as a serious colleague.”
3. What benefits can students and the general public expect to gain from attending?
“My hope is to hear experiences that enrich our understanding of what it means to be diverse and inclusive, and to walk away with some ideas for how to work together toward progress.”
4. What impact has the Diversity and Inclusion Student Council had on the college, the students involved and you personally?
“The student council has improved the web presence of the school, has offered a platform for increasing awareness among with engagement with faculty, staff and students about current news and challenges related to diversity and inclusion and it has become a model in the college for how other programs can engage and empower their students to push for progress. I think all of us involved with the council feel less powerless and more ‘in-control’ of making progress happen.”
5. If you could give a message to everyone in the industry and joining in the near future, what would it be?
“We are all agents of change. Change WILL happen with us. But it has to start with the individual realization that “I need fewer people at this table that look and sound like me. I need new voices, the ones with experiences I’ve never had, and voices that can tell me what I don’t know.”