Health+Commerce is underwriting Black PR students' career development.
By: Rashida Ashley (25 JUN 2022 // 3:20PM GMT)
PHILADELPHIA — Healthcare PR agency Health+Commerce has partnered with Temple University on an initiative aimed at bolstering diversity in the public relations industry.
Under the partnership, H+C will provide stipends for Temple students in the Black Public Relations Society to allow them to participate in career development. The agency has also established a scholarship fund for students from backgrounds underrepresented in PR. In addition, H+C will continue to speak to various classes at Temple to educate students about healthcare PR as a career. H+C chief client officer Krysta Pellegrino, who is a Temple graduate, said the partnership grew out of employees’ calls for the agency to take action to rectify a lack of diversity both within the company and the larger industry following George Floyd’s murder. Initially, Pellegrino and her team tried to recruit BICOP candidates but didn’t get the desired results. “We tried to recruit people using some of the traditional methods of recruiting and weren’t having a quick enough impact,” Pellegrino said. After meeting with experts at Temple, H+C leaders realized that advancing change required a more far-reaching effort, as the lack of diversity in the PR industry mirrors a much larger societal issue. “I think that was a really important first step for me and other employees,” Pellegrino said. The comms industry will have to turn to experts in the societal issues at play to create a truly diverse and inclusive industry, she said. Pellegrino said H+C chose Temple as a partner because it is one of the most diverse schools in the country; 40% of its 39,000 students are non-white. Recipients are already reaping the benefits of the scholarship, like the Temple senior who planned to pay his tuition with credit cards before receiving H+C’s assistance. Pellegrino said she hopes more members of the PR industry invest in furthering change so that the long-standing cycle of inequity can be broken. “I would hate to look five, 10 or 15 (years down the road) and still be having the same conversation,” she said.