The public profile of a national equality body may prove to be an important asset or an equally important pitfall for achieving the organization’s goals. Hence, when it comes to communication, the shaping of this profile is one of the main tasks for the communicators of the equality body. Doing it properly and effectively might be one of the greatest challenges that the communicators face.
The way an equality body is perceived by the general public, the stakeholders and decision makers directly affects its credibility. Various tools and methodologies may be used in order to shape or change, to some extent, this profile, depending on the target group, the available resources and the results pursued. Other tools may be used to evaluate the actual public profile of the organisation and the impact of the communication work on that profile.
All equality bodies seek to achieve positive change in society, by investigating complaints, following the implementation of the legal and institutional framework for equality, and actively promoting equal treatment and tolerance. Nevertheless, in order to maximize the effect of the work being done, an equality body should consistently and strategically remind people of its existence, accessibility, effectiveness, independence and reliability.
However, the task is not an easy one, and difficulties arise when building or reshaping the profile of an equality body, both internally and externally. Differences exist among the level and type of difficulties faced by the equality bodies, depending on various factors, among which lies the experience of each body and the culture of each society.
When discussing the issue among the Working Group on Communication Strategies and Practices, it appeared that some profile-building communication practices have been tested and proven to be more effective and lasting than others. At the same time, it was agreed that each initiative is relevant to the time and the public in which it is applied.
One of the main goals of this paper is to share our experience on different ways to deal with public-profile building. All members of the Working Group were surveyed on their own experience, and discussion followed on the overall findings. This paper is the ultimate result of this fruitful procedure, which was written in 2013 and has now been edited in 2015.
On the other hand, this paper has another goal: to remind and advocate for the importance of keeping track and being proactive as regards the public profile of the equality body, as a catalytic factor for achieving its goals. When this position is adopted by all different departments of the equality bodies, then more time, effort and resources will be provided by everyone in order to minimize the difficulties faced by the communicators when trying to keep a positive profile for the organisation.
After all, providing assistance to victims of discrimination and making suggestions towards ensuring equality will not be feasible if the profile of the equality body ceases to inspire trust and authority.