A Quick Thought: Diversity in PR

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Photo: My last time up in the clouds – which funnily enough, looks like thought bubbles.

(Note: Apologies for the frequent use of the word ‘diversity’ in this post – but what can you do when it’s the topic, eh?)

Politically speaking, this past year has brought us many things including; Brexit, President Donald Trump and excruciating headaches.

And while there is hatred and loathing in certain pockets of our society, times like these present the perfect opportunity for employers to analyse the diversity of their workforce.

Anyone with an ear to the ground or a role in the profession could tell you that the PR industry has faced strong criticism for its lack of diversity in recent times.

I mean, it’s no secret that agencies and communications teams across the nation are dominated by women. I can only assume that this is why the ‘PR Girl’ stereotype was conceived.

However, most of these women are unable to reach the top-end jobs, stunted by the infamous ‘glass ceiling’ that their male counterparts have been gliding past for years.

(Note2: I’ve just realised that this post might seem unnecessary when written by a white British male but the sentiment truly is there). 

So when 2016’s PRCA census displayed the UK Public Relations workforce as 91% White and 89% British, I can safely say I was shocked.

Sure, I might be just a student. But I honestly didn’t expect it to be that high.

I guess I should’ve paid more attention to a lecturer’s phrase about the industry – ‘pale, stale and male’ – when I had the chance.

But then, thinking back over various work placements across the UK, I engaged predominately with White British employees that were largely under 30.

The sheer lack in diversity made me wonder, could the industry be missing opportunities with a currently uniform workforce and are parts of the community being under represented?

Quite simply – is anyone doing anything about this?

The short answer: Yes they are.

A little digging led me to the PRCA’s Diversity Network which works to provide minorities with access to the communications profession and make the industry more representative of our nation. And when I found out that the PRCA had set up an independent commission following the criticism I was equally impressed.

In fact, I found many companies promoting the Equal Opportunities policy to highlight their enthusiasm towards developing diverse workforces.

When a PRWeek article from January showed that progress is still ‘achingly slow’, I began to wonder: is there anything that practitioners – prospective and current – could be doing to give diversity a push start?

No, I’m not suggesting you start hiring employees on your company’s behalf.

But strictly speaking, I’m a young man from Cornwall, I certainly didn’t face much diversity until moving to Bristol.

And three years down the line, I’ve realised that younger generations are keen to embrace culture and diversity with more open minds. Generally speaking of course.

So with that in mind, could practitioners of the future ensure that their professional decisions are more considering of the landscape? Attitudes and perceptions towards culture and race are certainly changing among younger generations, where it’s becoming less of a ‘thing’.

I’m not saying that we should purposefully include minorities within tactics, campaigns and pitches just to tick a box. But as communications specialists, we could easily act as representatives of this nation when delivering messages back to it. Or am I just being idealistic?

As Ghandi didn’t say – be the change you want to see in the world.

If the PR workforce isn’t going to be diverse for quite some time, then the output that you’re creating is going to have to be.

As the title says, just a quick thought.

I’d love to hear from you, so feel free to leave comments and give me your feedback. However, it’s important to remember that all comments are moderated in line with WordPress policy.

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