A number of UK PR heavyweights have issued a “call to arms” on diversity to the PR industry following the closure of diversity networking group Ignite.
Tanya Joseph, a former press officer to former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, and ex-Edelman UK CEO Robert Phillips have put their weight behind a PRCA drive to ensure efforts to promote diversity do not stumble.
Joseph, the director of business partnerships at Sport England, will be chairwoman of the organization's 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,” she said.
“This is not just a question of racial diversity, but also one of age, gender equality, and disability,” added Phillips.
The body is looking to recruit members before decisions about how it operates are made.
Ketchum London CEO and CIPR Diversity Working Group member Avril Lee welcomed the move and emphasized that the two bodies will 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 former Ignite chairwoman Bienosa Ebite.
Ebite also called for the 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,” she said. “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 a lack of time.
“We are a voluntary organization that relies on the time of volunteers,” she said. A joint PRWeek UK/PRCA census in 2011 revealed that 93% of the PR industry was white. Meanwhile, the PRCA is pressing ahead with its apprenticeship scheme, despite the closure of partner Pearson in Practice.
This article originally appeared on the website of PRWeek UK, the sister title of PRWeek at Haymarket Media.