Whether it was prompted by the Black Lives Matter movement or #metoo, gender pay gap reporting or homophobic attacks, there have been (many) moments in the last years where it has felt clear that essential changes in society are not happening at the rate needed.
Even with evidence that a diverse workforce benefits not only the individual but contributes to business financial success, the PR and Communications industries remain unrepresentative with implications on every aspect of how we work – from hiring to retention, spokesperson strategy to campaign creative.
This is reinforced by this year’s CIPR State of the Profession report, which reveals an industry that is still overwhelmingly heterosexual, white and middle class. This is stark when you benchmark the industry to the UK working population average: 87% classifying themselves as white compared to a higher percentage of 91% in the PR industry and 76% of PR practitioners having a degree compared to 35% of the general population. The only area PR is more diverse is around sexuality, with 86% of professionals classifying themselves as heterosexual compared to 95% of the UK population.
In the last months, we’ve seen many agencies, organisations and individuals take action but what’s clear is that it must be done over a sustained period of time if we are to realise lasting improvements in diversity and inclusion. We want to help. So, we’re launching accessmatters, a platform designed to encourage listening, sharing of experience, learning from best practice, and collaboration on the actions that will have greatest positive impact.
We recognise that tackling industry diversity begins with us reviewing our approach so, in tandem with launching accessmatters, we’ve kicked off a cross-organisational working group to audit, review and identify the changes we must take. As an immediate step, this means us putting in place criteria to ensure any event we host, sponsor or speak at is representative of a range of communities.
True change relies on us as an industry being transparent, open to learn and collaborate so together we improve our diversity and how inclusive we are of difference. Over the coming weeks and months, we hope accessmatters will help – we look forward to hearing what you think.