In the continuing pursuit for diversity among its employee ranks, Paul Cordasco finds that PR agencies would do well by following the example laid out by some of corporate America's biggest companies.Fannie Mae, Merrill Lynch, American Express, Advanced Micro Devices, AOL Time Warner. What do these firms have in common besides being some of the world's largest and most powerful companies? They all have chief executives that are minorities. While none of these talented and powerful leaders wants to be known solely as a minority CEO, their climbs to the top of the corporate ladder highlight the incredible strides corporate America has made in the past decade to make the workplace a more diverse and culturally rich place. Yet, as a recent PRSA survey on diversity highlighted (click here to see the September 1 story), PR firms have largely been spectators, rather than active participants, to this ennobling change. This observation is not meant as an indictment of the agency world - indeed the entire PR profession is dealing with the issue of attracting and recruiting minorities. (The ethnic makeup of survey respondents alone underscores this problem, as nearly 90% described themselves as Caucasian.) Nevertheless, of the 2,023 survey respondents, only 41% said the agency world has been "somewhat successful" or "very successful" in building diversity in its ranks. That total brings up the rear in the survey and marked the only segment of the PR industry below the 50% mark. Corporations earned 52%, which was ahead of associations (51%), but trailed the much more historically diverse areas of nonprofit (69%) and government (72%). Several factors have likely hindered many agencies in the area of minority hiring and recruiting. Those reasons aside, there's little doubt that smart firms are coming around to the idea that cultural diversity in their ranks is now a business priority. This is laid bare by the fact that corporate America - in other words, the client community - has made diversity a priority and is acting on it. If smart firms have learned anything, it's that it pays to follow client trends. "Companies are realizing that as the US becomes more diverse, they must reflect that in their ranks," says Edie Frazer, who helps run Diversity Best Practices, a consulting group in Washington. "Yet getting there is a competitive journey, and it's not always easy." Frazer's group consults some of the US' largest companies on diversity initiatives, and is about to publish a 700-page primer on corporate diversity. Along with offering many examples of how corporate America is approaching diversity, the primer outlines some basic steps that firms interested in improving diversity within their ranks might want to consider:
Have you registered with us yet?
Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletinsRegister