Leeds Metropolitan University has been given £43,000 from the Economic and Social Research Council to investigate the issue.
Lee Edwards, senior lecturer in PR at Leeds Metropolitan University, said the research could turn out to be a ‘wake-up call to people at the top of the PR profession’.
Edwards is heading the study, which will be based on interviews, focus groups and diaries of PROs. It is hoped the study will offer insight into how the industry can be made more inclusive.
In 2005, research by CIPR found that 6.5 per cent of PR practitioners are from ethnic minority backgrounds. Some eight per cent of the overall UK workforce is from ethnic minority backgrounds, according to official figures.
Zena Martin, managing director of Acknowledge Communications, is on the steering committee of the study. She said: ‘This study is important because industries should truly reflect the societies that they serve and the UK PR industry does not do that.’
Colin Byrne, Weber Shandwick European CEO, said ‘It’s imperative we, as an industry, reflect social diversity and this research will heighten the understanding of the need to diversify our talent, which is central to the future of PR.’