PRCA takes up diversity drive in wake of Ignite closure

A 'call to arms' on diversity has been issued to the PR industry following the closure of diversity networking group Ignite.

Network:Tanya Joseph and Robert Phillips are leading the project
Network:Tanya Joseph and Robert Phillips are leading the project

Former press officer to Tony Blair, Tanya Joseph, and ex-Edelman CEO Robert Phillips have put their weight behind a new PRCA drive to ensure efforts to promote diversity do not stumble.

Joseph, current director of business partnerships at Sport England, will be chairwoman of the organisation’s new Diversity Network, and Phillips will be vice-chairman.

Joseph said that the issue was ‘integral’ to the success of PR in the coming five years.

‘Only with a workforce that is truly representative of the nation will we be taken seriously. This is a call to arms and we challenge PRCA members who want to see this happen to join our network and get involved in enabling the next generation of PR talent.’

Phillips said: ‘This is not just a question of racial diversity, but also one of age, gender equality and disability.’
The body is looking to recruit members before decisions about how it operates are made.

Ketchum CEO and CIPR Diversity Working Group member Avril Lee welcomed the move and emphasised that the two bodies would work together on the issue.

Her words follow the CIPR overhauling its presidential election process to focus on attracting more diverse candidates.

Such co-operation on the issue was ‘essential’, added the former chairwoman of Ignite, Bieneosa Ebite.

Ebite also called for training of agency heads on the benefits of employing staff from a variety of backgrounds, and monitoring the make-up of the industry.

‘Measurement is a key topic for the industry and so we need to take that into the area of diversity. There needs to be a focus on leadership, collaboration and putting a strong business case.’

When Ignite closed after four years earlier this month Ebite said the main cause was lack of time. ‘We are a voluntary organisation that relies on the time of volunteers,’ she said.A joint PRWeek/PRCA census in 2011 revealed 93 per cent of the PR industry was white.

Meanwhile, the PRCA is pressing ahead with its apprenticeship scheme, despite the closure of partner Pearson in Practice.

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