In July of 2020, I reached out to five industry organizations to get their statements in regard to implementing policies and programs to proactively address diversity and inclusion in the printing industry. You can read it here.

diversity and inclusion in the print industry

Almost a year later, I checked in to see if any forward motion had been made. Here are the responses.

Lori Anderson, FASAE, CAE • President & CEO, International Sign Association 

So much has transpired in the last year it is difficult to get your head around it all. While the pandemic captured the bulk of our attention, social justice issues moved to the forefront with the murder of George Floyd one year ago. And since last week also marked the 100-year anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre, your follow-up is a timely one.

Certainly, diversity, equity and inclusion is an immense and vitally important topic, too big and all-encompassing for one association, industry, activity, or person to solve. ISA’s mission is to help grow and improve the sign, graphics and visual communications industry and while on its surface, diversity, equity and inclusion may not be an obvious or direct correlation to our mission, social justice issues do indeed matter. They matter a great deal.

They matter because in order to grow the industry we need to be an inclusive one. To ensure that future workers see our industry as exciting, accessible and value-based, we must place a priority on diversity. To be viewed as relevant by communities and customers alike, we must be willing to talk more openly and honestly about these issues. They matter because people matter, and it is the right thing to do.

ISA can’t solve these issues but we can take – and have taken — some steps in the right direction. We had a session at ISA Sign Expo 2021 Virtual on diversity, equity and inclusion, where company representatives talked about the business imperative of taking diversity issues seriously. A few years ago we took an initial step of supporting women leaders by launching Women Leading the Industry, an initiative that brought hundreds of women leaders together to learn, network and grow.

The ISA Board of Directors also took an important step a few years ago by adding to ISA’s strategic plan this desired future statement: “ISA promotes diversity by providing a platform that empowers women and minorities to enter and succeed in the industry.” Our leadership committees have more people of color serving now than at any time in ISA’s history, and two women are in line to be Chair of the ISA Board of Directors in 2023 and in 2024.

It can be easy to move on to something else or to simply give lip service to change. But as an industry community we can’t let that happen. There are too many threats facing sign companies, including the reality of not enough workers to fill needed positions. Building an industry that is welcoming to all is not only the right thing to do, it is the single best answer to moving our industry and our companies forward.

Thank you for providing an opportunity to discuss these critical topics.

Skip Henk • President & CEO, Xplor International

Xplor fosters a caring and inclusive forum for all to grow as professionals and as human beings. The composition of our membership is diverse, driven by those who chose to be part of the Xplor community. All are welcome.

At this time 30% of our Association Board represents minorities with 30% of our Board members being female.

We will continue to solicit and add qualified minorities to the Xplor Board.

Anyone interested in becoming a member of the Xplor Association Board can contact skip@xplor.org.

Ford Bowers • President & CEO, PRINTING United Alliance

In the year since the original PrintMediaCentr piece ran about industry organizations stepping up to address diversity with action, PRINTING United Alliance has created a dedicated Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee.  This internal group is comprised of staff from all ages, genders, race, and ethnicities. The committee meets regularly to identify areas of opportunity to challenge each other to embrace and respect varied points of view, experiences, and backgrounds.

Given the gravity of this initiative, DEI subcommittees were formed to identify actionable steps and how we collectively can be more mindful and aware of inclusivity in areas such as: our own core values; developing a more diverse external contributor base in areas such as content contributors, advisory board members, speakers, etc.; as well as in recruitment efforts, with the understanding that DEI is inextricably part of the recruitment process, from start to finish.

Ambrose Crenshaw, Director of Digital Strategy, NAPCO Media, is the chair of the PRINTING United Alliance DEI Committee and is leading out in efforts to identify areas of growth and opportunity for the company in being mindful of incorporating inclusivity across the Alliance and then into the printing community at large.

“Our goal is to effect sustainable internal processes that simultaneously enrich our work lives, increase our capacity for innovation, and provide opportunities to develop a more diverse workforce across the industry,” says Crenshaw. “The DEI committee has prioritized these initiatives – core values, recruitment, and content contributors because of the compounding effect that even small changes can have.

“The subcommittees have enthusiastically embraced the initiatives and collaborated on a shared vision that will include training and resources for all staff, opportunities to partner with other organizations, as well as changes to how we communicate every day.”

Tasha Ventimiglia • Labelexpo Event Director 

Labelexpo did not provide a response by the supplied deadline for this post. I will update this information should that change.

Thayer Long • President, Association for Print Technologies

APTech continues to support diversity and inclusion in the industry. We have grown diversity on our board and Executive Committee, and have a definite purpose to add perspective and diversity and inclusion principles within our content and program development activity. This initiative underpins all that APTech does.

If you feel these organizations have fulfilled their commitment to foster inclusion and equality in the industry – SUPPORT THEM! Join, participate in their initiatives, engage, recruit more like-minded members and help make the world and the industry a better place.

If you feel that these organizations have not fulfilled their commitment to foster inclusion and equality in the industry – JOIN THEM! Change happens from within and membership matters. Participate, engage, recruit more like-minded members and help make the world and the industry a better place.

There are many more organizations out there. If you belong to one that is doing something to foster DEI in the industry please let me know so I can share their info with the Printerverse!

The road to lasting and meaningful change starts with you.

My mission to #ElevatePrint continues with a new podcast co-hosted by Keeana Barber, Aaron Selmon, and Dante Hamilton. Listen to our first two episodes below and subscribe to Podcasts From The Printerverse on your preferred player to be alerted when new episodes of this series are released – and more. You can also listen to the #ElevatePrint Podcast here.

If you are looking to expand your resources and partners, I have a growing list of women, black and minority-owned print businesses. Please get in touch if you want to be added to this list, or know a business that should.

ELEVATE LONG AND PROSPER!

More posts from Deborah


DeborahCorn-PrintMediaCentrDeborah Corn is the Intergalactic Ambassador to The Printerverse™ at Print Media Centr, a Print Buyerologist™, industry speaker and blogger, host of Podcasts from The Printerverse, the cultivator of Print Production Professionals the #1 print group on LinkedIn, Girl #1 at GirlsWhoPrint, host of #PrintChat every Wednesday at 4 PM ET on Twitter, the founder of International Print Day and the founder of #ProjectPeacock. She is the recipient of several industry honors including the 2016 Girls Who Print Girlie Award and sits on the board of The Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi and is a Member-at-Large for the Advertising Production Club of NYC.

Deborah has 25+ years of experience working in advertising as a Print Producer. She currently provides printspiration and resources to print and marketing professionals through PMC and works behind the scenes with printers, suppliers, and industry organizations helping them create meaningful relationships with customers, and achieve success with their social media and content marketing endeavors.

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