We need diversity instead of hypocrisy

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The PR industry’s worsening diversity record was rightly cast in a terrible light by Avril Lee, Chair of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations Diversity and Inclusion Forum, in the CIPR State of the Profession Report published today:

The PR industry agrees that diversity is important for attracting the best talent to bring fresh thinking, creativity and insights into new audiences, but our actions speak louder than our words.

And our actions are building a profession of white public school alumni; we are less diverse than we’ve been for the past five years, with 92% of our industry being white and nearly one in three practitioners (28%) coming from fee paying schools, compared to only 16% in 2015.

Furthermore, while the report shows a reduction in the gender pay gap, it still stands at an average of £5,202, with women occupying 44% of senior roles, even though they are 67% of the PR workforce. It has also seen a fall in the proportion of people who do not identify as heterosexual, down from 15% to 11%. The report says:

Together these findings, each unique in their causes and required responses, paint a picture of a profession which lacks self-awareness and consciously or unconsciously disadvantages people based on who they are rather than what they do. While the profession may look to changing recruiting processes, these statistics beg the question; does public relations suffer from a cultural problem, resulting in a failure to support and retain diverse talent?

It is time for those at the top of the profession, who have the most power, to stop paying lip-service to diversity and inclusion, and instead step up their efforts to drive positive change.

Improving our recruitment, promotion and retention practices would be a good start towards changing the culture.

How else do you think leaders can build more diverse teams? As director of the inclusion committee for Women Leaders in Communications, I would love to hear your ideas. Time for #deedsnotwords.

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