Diversity and Inclusion in PR

Last week our president, Denise Herd, created a social media post about the lack of representation in the public relations industry and is she is WORRIED! Are there not enough qualified candidates to move up the ladder?

Is there a lack of interest in the industry as a whole? In 2018, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the PR industry was comprised of following racial demographics: 87.9% white, 8.3% African American, 2.6% Asian American, and 5.7% Hispanic American. Something has to be done to better balance these numbers.

If agencies don’t take an active role in cultivating diverse staffs, then they’re losing out on potential opportunities and a universal perspective. Here’s an example: Last year, H&M came under fire when they published an image of a young black boy sporting a hoodie with a monkey accompanied by the words “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle.” Many of my peers couldn’t believe this was happening. This image was a painful reminder of a time when white people did not see black people as human, but as animals. It’s so hard to believe that H&M didn’t think about how this could be offensive. If there had been more diverse perspectives at the table or a broader representation of audiences present, H&M could have avoided this entire misstep.

We’ve heard from many sources that recruitment is a challenge and I’ve identified a few steps agencies can take to establish relationships in the community, attract the right candidates, and retain a diverse pool of talent.

  1. Look internally and ask, “Do we celebrate cultural differences?” If your environment is welcoming, it will allow a diverse atmosphere to flourish. If not, you’ve got a bigger problem on your hands.

  2. Support diverse industry groups such as the Indianapolis Association of Black Journalists, or the National Hispanic Association of Journalists by offering to help to achieve their goals. Whether it’s engaging in speaker panels or leading a workshop demonstrates your willingness to help members excel.

  3. Partner with diverse and women-owned agencies on contracts or projects. Partnering with these agencies shows an interest in working in diverse markets, and gives you a chance to discover other revenue opportunities.

  4. Connect with HBCU or multi-cultural institutions to hire interns or hire students to complete projects. Taking an active role in educating and preparing future PR practitioners will help ensure qualified students enter the workforce.

According to the U.S. Census, by 2020, 36.5% of the U.S. population will consist of Asians, Hispanics, Blacks, and other non-Hispanic white citizens. With this in mind, diversity in Public Relations is crucial because our industry must reflect our population and if that doesn’t happen, then we are in serious trouble.