THIS WEEK’S BIG QUESTION: Is the PR industry racist?

The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) is targeting companies in a drive against racism

The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) is targeting companies in

a drive against racism

Addie Churchill

Talk Loud PR

’I have never come across racism in the industry, and have always found

that people are judged on their results. We have people from various

ethnic backgrounds on the staff and, as far as I can see, it is always a

case of asking ’who is the best person to do the job?’’

Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones


’A lot of agencies feel that clients might be put off if they have to

deal with black or Asian consultants, so they do not actively encourage

people from minorities into the profession. To that extent, the industry

is racist by default. Many of the big PR companies make money out of

helping black and Asian businesses, but do they really have the

expertise? Surely a black person has the best perspective on what it is

like to be a black person in England. Did the CRE consider that fact

when it put its contract out to tender?’

Adrian Wheeler


’There are certainly not enough representatives from minority groups in

PR consultancy. It seems to be the case that however much we want them,

they don’t particularly want us. Indian, East African and Asian

minorities set their sights on the standard professions like law and

medicine, and they do very well. Among Afro-Caribbeans, PR doesn’t even

feature on their desired career list. PR firms are equal opportunity

employers, but perhaps we need to do more to highlight this issue.’

Howard de Souza

Bell Pottinger Good Relations

’I believe this is still an industry that makes decisions based on every

conceivable criteria but race. One should be careful not to let race

become a convenient label to hide behind in the face of either personal

or professional rejection. There could well be other valid reasons for

not getting what you want in business.’

Tom Wells

Consolidated PR

’PR is one of the most meritocratic industries I have come across.

People who are good at PR are good communicators because they think

about what they say, whereas racism is deliberate non-communication. The

two are mutually exclusive. The problem is that the industry has not

been good at selling itself to minority groups, and so few apply. We

need to identify why that is, and change their perceptions.’

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