Diversity Awards' ultimate goal is for the entire industry to win

Diversity and inclusion continues to elude the broader PR industry.

Diversity and inclusion continues to elude the broader PR industry. In teaming up with the Council of PR Firms on our Diversity Distinction in PR Awards, which marks its fourth year in 2014, PRWeek is committed to highlighting this vital issue and inspiring through the examples the honorees provide.

One victory we hope to achieve is getting the industry to recognize the need to improve in this area. According to the US Census Bureau, "people of color" - and I realize diversity and inclusion goes beyond that - made up 36.2% of the population in 2011 and will climb to 49.9% by 2050. That is an audience most of your PR campaigns target. How can you effectively craft programs for them if your staffs don't represent them?

According to data compiled for the annual PRWeek/Bloom, Gross & Associates Salary Survey, only 11% of the PR workforce is black (5%), Asian (2%), or Hispanic (4%). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people of color made up 18.7% of the US labor force in 2010 and will rise to 20.6% in 2020. PR's numbers on this front must improve.

Speaking of numbers, PRWeek realizes it has work to do, as well. We need more entries. A common explanation among those not submitting is a belief their efforts on this front cannot compete with a select few agencies who seem to excel in this area, so why bother entering?

I'll tell you why. This awards program is about more than winning a trophy. It's about celebrating progress on diversity and inclusion, no matter how big or small. This is a case where efforts made to do something, anything, on this front should be recognized by the judges we convene to review all the submissions each year. That's a powerful audience to impress, but they'll never know about your efforts if you don't enter.

In late April, we will begin accepting entries for the 2014 program on our website. We have rethought some of the categories in an effort to give entities of all sizes the best chances to shine. Diversity and inclusion must not be relegated to "nice thing to do" status. It is smart business and this awards program looks to accentuate that point and honor those who operate under that philosophy. I look forward to the day where every agency and in-house team reflects that sentiment and, as such, this program will no longer be necessary. When that day comes, we all win.

Gideon Fidelzeid is managing editor of PRWeek. He can be contacted at gideon.fidelzeid@prweek.com.

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