PR is top sector for prioritising diversity and inclusion – survey

PR professionals are the most likely of any sector to believe diversity and inclusion (D&I) has been a greater priority in their industry since the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, new research suggests.

PR is top sector for prioritising diversity and inclusion – survey

Eighty-one per cent of PRs believe D&I has become a higher priority for the industry since last summer. For advertising, the figure is 75 per cent, and for IT and telcomms it is 40 per cent.

The study of 1,376 working people, for networking group People Like Us, found that those in industries hardest-hit by COVID-19 had a more negative perception. The proportion who think D&I has been more of a priority since summer 2020 was 32 per cent for healthcare, 21 per cent for manufacturing and utilities, and 12 per cent for travel and transport.

The research, conducted by Censuswide, reveals a divided national response to last summer's protests. Two-thirds of London professionals said they feel D&I is a higher priority for their company since BLM came back into the spotlight in 2020; however, this falls to 28 per cent among workers outside London.

Thirty-five per cent agreed the momentum of diversity has fizzled out in the workplace since the summer – that proportion shoots up to 57 per cent when the same question was asked of BME workers.

While two-thirds of managers feel progress has been made on D&I, this falls to less than half among junior ranks. However, 85 per cent of managers claim to have done something personally to become anti-racist; for non-managers, the figure is 61 per cent.

The top three steps working professionals said their company took in response are a statement to staff (24 per cent), investing in training sessions such as unconscious bias and white privilege workshops (22 per cent) and pledging to review their D&I initiatives (20 per cent).

However, just 13 per cent said their company hired more BME employees, and 29 per cent of respondents said their company didn’t do anything in response to BLM.

Meanwhile, 56 per cent of those who think ethnic pay gap reporting will be part of legislation in the future believe the BLM protests brought this forward – just three per cent think they pushed this back. On average, working professionals think companies with more than 250 employees will have to report on ethnic pay gaps as part of legislation, as they do with gender, by 2023.

Darain Faraz, co-founder of People Like Us, said: “As someone who has worked in marcomms in London for a large part of their career, the differences our survey has delivered are stark and worrying. It’s a tale of London versus outside London, it’s a story of senior versus junior staff, and the findings are emphasised even further when you look at the industry-by-industry comparison. The results clearly point towards the need for bespoke solutions for specific audiences. While nationally there is a net-positive attitude to D&I since BLM, the moment you dig a bit deeper the story becomes markedly different.”

People Like Us launched about a year ago as a networking group for minority ethnic professionals working in media and marcomms. It was founded by brothers Faraz, Linkedin head of brand, EMEA and LATAM, and Sheeraz Gulsher, senior account manager at PrettyGreen and PRWeek UK's current Young PR Professional of the Year.

The group's next event is on 25 February, where 10 media and marcomms professionals from BME backgrounds will present work of which they are proud.

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