The recent State of PR report by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations found that most PR professionals are in agreement, that campaigns carried out by diverse teams are more effective. Despite this sentiment BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) public relations professionals only account for 10% of practitioners across the various roles in the industry. The issue of diversity extends beyond ethnicity and includes issues of gender, sexuality and class. A diverse workplace is not only necessary for the future of PR but also has a lot of value.
Connecting with audiences
Today public relations firms are tasked with communicating across cultures in order to successfully work in international markets. Diverse teams are able to provide diverse perspectives developed from through team members’ own unique life experiences. Barriers of language also become obsolete aiding these communications. Often when working with global players it is important that PRs understand cultural nuances and are aware of traditions in order to avoid causing offence. When a PR team already has these skills within their agency they have a competitive advantage. Even regionally it is clear that audiences are not one size fits all, and instead are small representations of the diversity of a larger worldwide community. PR agencies should aim to reflect their diverse audiences in order to build more authentic long lasting relationships.
Addressing societal discrepancies
Addressing the imbalance in the PR industry is also important for the advancement of different societal groups. It is worrying that women in senior PR positions are still faced with having to deal with a ‘glass ceiling’ that benefits men in the same positions by paying women less than their male counterparts. It can be argued that even if paths into top-level positions have become easier for women to navigate, the gender pay gap casts a shadow over these accomplishments. Promoting gender equality allows companies to help transform and support modern family constructs where single and double incomes are a norm.
Talent attraction and retention
Changes in labour demographics also provide a new challenge for recruiters and companies looking for talent. By hiring the same template of PR professionals companies are unable to tap into the wealth of skilled practitioners. Often persons with disabilities or of a different generation are overlooked despite their knowledge and experience. Many companies focus on hiring millennials forgetting the strength of experience and the well-established networks of contacts that mature candidates have. Or inversely mature workers are favoured over their younger counterparts who are looking to establish themselves. Multi-generational teams – like culturally diverse ones – also provide different insights into communicating with certain audiences.
Furthermore, in regards to talent attraction and retention, job seekers want to see that companies embrace people like them. Employees become more engaged and productive when they are aware that their company appreciates the value of diversity as part of their company culture. Where employees feel that they have to assimilate instead of standing in their own uniqueness talent will seek other opportunities and a more comfortable workplace.