Diversity is a huge issue for the PR industry.
Why? Two reasons. First, there’s a business case. How can we be trusted to provide advice on consumer insight when we continue to view the world solely through the eyes of the white, middle class and graduated?
If we are to stand a chance of remaining relevant, our PR people need to reflect the multicultural society to which we belong.
Second, there’s a moral imperative. Equality of opportunity needs to exist within the PR industry just as much as it does in every other part of life.
The PRWeek/PRCA Census 2013 demonstrated the industry’s failure to become truly inclusive: 91 per cent of people within in it are white, a fractional improvement on the previous 2011 Census, when white people accounted for 92 per cent of the business.
The PRCA launched its Diversity Network two years ago, to open access to the comms profession and make it more representative of the nation. Over the two years, the network has developed initiatives such as the joint PRCA/PRWeek scheme PR Internships For All; the PRCA’s PR Careers Guide and schools outreach programme, intended to introduce PR as a career choice to a diverse range of young people; and the CMS Diversity Module.
The PRCA recently appointed two new chairmen to its Diversity Network – Rana Reeves, the founder of the hugely successful agency John Doe; and Jackie Cooper, a legend of the PR industry, now Edelman’s global chair of creative strategy. They are truly, passionately committed to creating change. In this, their approach perfectly fits with the PRCA’s way of doing things.
While others may be content to sit and moan about the injustices they encounter, we want to create real change.
And led by our Diversity Network, we will be undertaking a number of commitments through the year. We will be introducing a diversity element to the judging of the PRCA Awards. We will provide women with the support they need to develop into senior positions, working closely with our group Women in PR. We will provide junior and senior executives with guidance and support from those more established in the industry. And there will be more content coming aimed at encouraging young people from diverse backgrounds to join the PR industry.
With PRWeek we are preparing to launch a joint Internships Awards programme as part of our aim to encourage PR employers to provide meaningful, structured and salaried internships. You heard it here first.
And to refute the naysayers who suggest diversity doesn’t concern that many people in PR, the first meeting held by the new Diversity Network leadership saw a fantastic turnout: over 30 people from across the industry – agency leaders, comms directors, HR and recruitment staff, journalists and more. We meet again in June, and expect much
to have been done in the meantime.
So, please get involved. We want the industry’s brightest and best to take on a role within the Diversity Network – only together can we bring change.
Francis Ingham is PRCA director-general and ICCO executive director