From the guest editors: Let’s make PR anti-racist

The year 2020 will be etched in the memories of many for its numerous eye-opening and life-changing global challenges, from COVID-19 to the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Guest editors Jennifer Ogunleye and Julian Obubo
Guest editors Jennifer Ogunleye and Julian Obubo

For many PR professionals of Black or minority ethnic heritage, 2020 marks the start of unapologetically speaking our truth, demanding more equitable representation in our organisations and our event agendas, as well as a more inclusive future for those coming up behind us.

For too long employers have claimed they understand that diversity matters – from both a moral point of view but also a business perspective – yet the dial does not seem to be moving when it comes to the approach on race.

We’ve called this special edition ‘Making PR Anti-Racist’. We’ve chosen not to use any euphemisms when describing racism; we need to call it what it is.

Throughout the coverage - which has been published online these past two weeks and is included in the September print edition - you will find much-needed contextual grounding on the origins of our discontents. Many in our industry understand that diversity and inclusion is an important issue, but they may struggle to frame it in the larger context of racism, discrimination, and inequality.

Our focus here is on prejudice and discrimination faced by non-white professionals, but of course the industry still has work to do in combatting all forms of prejudice.

We’ve worked on this edition to serve as a bit of history lesson, a sociology lecture, a how-to-guide (and a how not-to-guide), and, importantly, a celebration of some of the most brilliant and influential people working today.

PRWeek is the most prominent news platform for our industry, so it is hugely significant for the magazine to demonstrate and double down on its re-commitment to inclusion by inviting the perspective of two Black guest editors. We’ve all had those moments where we’ve thought: “Is this really the industry for me?”, “Am I welcome here – is there space for someone like me?”, or “It doesn’t feel like I’ll ever make it to the top of this organisation or the front pages of any expert commentary”. Our hope is that by the time you make it through this edition – packed with names and faces that look just like us reflected back from its pages, not only speaking on issues of diversity but included for the expertise we’ve spent our careers curating – you will think differently.

This edition has made PRWeek history in the demographic makeup of its guest editors and the sheer volume of BME voices being profiled in its pages. This is just the start. Let’s learn from our history, and from each other, and continue to drive meaningful change.

Jennifer Ogunleye (tech PR lead, KPMG) and Julian Obubo (partner, Manifest), guest editors

Check out a selection of content from this special edition:

'I’ve started a new chapter and I don’t want to go back' - Chuka Umunna, from politics to PR

'We don’t hire for a cultural fit, we hire for a cultural add' - how to be an ethnically diverse PR employer

Necessary leveller or recipe for segregation? Affirmative action in PR - the cases for and against

'No more pointless statements with empty promises' - how PR can encourage diversity (part 2)

The roots of racism at work – is discrimination today a legacy of slavery?

PR at university: 'We must become the BME role models we lack’

'There are people who are ignorant but some are downright racist' - Elizabeth Bananuka on racism, The Blueprint and hope

'Pick and choose what will make the biggest impact' - Gerry Wisniewski, Edelman

'We would have to work twice or even three times as hard as everyone else' - Tanya Joseph, H+K

'Being different is an advantage' - Preena Gadher, Riot Communications

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