This blog post will assess the lack of diversity in PR. In particular, I will discuss Lisa Moore’s “Diversity in PR is a whitewash” article, which was published by PR Week. The article was based upon the 2013 PR Census.
The article discussed the lack of diversity in PR. In particular, Moore highlighted the following:
- Historically, PR has been seen as an industry dominated by white, middle-class graduates. The 2013 PR Census found the industry is still heavily populated by these demographics.
- Only 6% of those working within the industry are ‘non-white.’
- The lack of diversity offers few networking opportunities or role models for people across a range of backgrounds.
- The industry is trying to counteract this problem. In particular, the CIPR and PRCA have programmes promoting diversity. In addition, paid internships and apprenticeships are steadily gaining support.
- Promoting diversity will allow the industry to source a range of recruits. In turn, this will help PR create campaigns which resonate across society.
It is perhaps ironic – given the fact I’m white, middle-class and an ‘almost graduate’ – that I have suffered from the industry’s lack of diversity. The majority of placements are unpaid. However, unless they come from a wealthy background, most applicants are unable to work for free. This problem is further exacerbated by the lack of PR presence across the country. If you’re working for free, can you afford to relocate? Londoners don’t worry! KeyNote reports that 51% of agencies are based in the capital. However, those in the West Midlands have less opportunity; with only 12% of agencies based in the region.
Inevitably, PR must employ the most capable professionals; who support their work. However, improving diversity could help the industry achieve this objective. In particular, I would argue that paid placements are integral to supporting this change. The use of paid placements would allow equal opportunity for people of differing ethnicity, location, age and class. In turn, this could help the industry become more creative and thus useful as a service.
As mentioned previously, the industry is already trying to counteract this problem. However, the 2013 PR Census shows that PR is still suffering from a lack of diversity. Therefore, I would argue that further work must be completed in this area. In addition, I feel it is important for budding professionals to create their own opportunities. For example, you can work with local businesses within your area.
The PR industry is unlikely to change overnight. For the majority of budding professionals, it is likely you will work for free. I’ve relocated for unpaid placements and lived on a shoestring budget. However, it’s important you know your worth! You may not be paid, but are you gaining a wealth of experience? If so, then you may need to adopt the beans and air diet for a while…
Do you feel that PR lacks diversity? Should unpaid internships be outlawed? You can discuss these topics, with the PR gurus of tomorrow and the industry leaders of today, at Birmingham City University’s Into The Future. The event takes place May 9th at Millennium Point. Free tickets available here: http://tinyurl.com/kgt5v5o.
by Thomas O’Connell