Opinion: Why the PRCA is taking decisive action on diversity in PR

Opinion: Why the PRCA is taking decisive action on diversity in PR

Neha Khatwani, the PRCA’s public affairs, policy and research manager, talks about the new PRCA diversity guidelines and why 2018 is a pivotal year for diversity in PR.

This month, we launched the PRCA Diversity and Inclusion Guidelines.

Diversity has always been a hot topic for the PR and communications industry. It regularly features in industry events and conferences, and has also featured in the PRCA’s campaigning work through the PRCA Intern Campaign (a commitment to ban the practice of unpaid internships) and the PR Apprenticeship Scheme.

We have also seen many organisations doing great work by implementing policies to make their workplaces more diverse and inclusive. Cicero, Dynamo, Forster Communications, Golin and the Taylor Bennett Foundation were all showcased in the new guidelines. Nevertheless, the industry has struggled to make tangible progress in this area, and there has been significant demand for the PRCA to act decisively.

The launch of the PR Census in 2016 was a pivotal moment for our campaigning work and it shed light on the state of diversity within the industry:

  • The industry is 91% white and 83% British.
  • 64% of communicators are women, but the gender pay gap in 2016 was £9,111.
  • Only 2% of PR and comms practitioners consider themselves to have a disability.
  • Around 6% of industry members describe themselves as gay or bisexual.

The census revealed that the PR industry’s response to diversity has been relatively static since we first started recording these statistics in 2011. Many were rightly disappointed by these findings and called on us, as the industry’s professional body, to act.

As such, the PR and Communications Council pledged to improve diversity and inclusion within the industry and to provide it with a clear road map on how to achieve this. We took this pledge seriously, and today I can say that we delivered on it.

The comprehensive guidelines examine the current state of diversity in the industry, outline the business case for improving diversity and offer clear, manageable steps to making the workplace more diverse and inclusive.

We address issues such as geography, age and mental health – alongside more explored issues such as gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. The industry must address the issue of diversity holistically to achieve true progress.

The report’s recommendations range from offering flexible working practices to reforming recruitment practices so they are more fair and transparent. It also suggests offering paid and structured internships or apprenticeships and monitoring diversity metrics.

We must stress that this should not be a “box-ticking exercise”. These policies should have senior buy-in and should lead to a workplace culture that accommodates difference.

This will be a defining year for diversity. PR has come a long way, but there’s still a lot more we can do. The industry cannot continue to grow if it does not represent the people with which it communicates. I urge everyone to get involved in our work and address the issue seriously.

  • To read the PRCA’s new diversity guidelines, click here. To take part in the PR and Communications Census 2018 survey, click here.
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