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Investing more in diversity will benefit the PR industry

This month we celebrate Global Diversity Awareness Month, which presents an opportune moment to reflect on how your organisation is progressing when it comes to diversity and inclusion.

It’s well documented that diversity can help drive creativity and productivity in businesses, which ultimately benefits the bottom line. According to the 2018 McKinsey and Company report, businesses with a diverse workforce are 35% more likely to have a financial return above industry medians. 

However, it’s no secret that the PR industry has a long way to go when it comes to recruiting a diverse workforce, especially with regards to ethnic diversity. While accepting her award at the recent Diversity Distinction in PR Awards , Weber Shandwick’s Judith Harrison - honoured as PR Agency Diversity Champion - pointed out that although the white population in the U.S. has dropped significantly since 1995, the PR industry has not changed to reflect this.

It’s a similar story in the UK, with 89% of the industry identifying as white British, according to the PRCA PR and Communications Census 2018, although this figure is 2% lower than in 2016, which suggests the industry is slowly becoming more ethnically diverse.

So how can PR agencies invest wisely to create a more diverse workforce and benefit their business as a result?

  • Invest in unconscious bias training: Unconscious bias includes things like pre-judging candidates without even realising it based on the name on their CV, or their appearance in an interview. Some organisations are investing in unconscious bias training to help make hiring managers and employees more aware of how their preconceptions could influence their decisions. For example, in the creative industry, international recruitment firm, Daniel Marks, is working with Creative Equals to tailor a training session for all its employees to tackle unconscious bias in the recruitment process, as well as help them be more inclusive in their roles. 
  • Promote your company’s approach to diversity and inclusion: Ali Hanan, CEO at Creative Equals, said more than 74% of graduates now consider a company’s approach to inclusion and diversity before they work there. As long as you are genuinely committed to creating a diverse workforce, make sure you’re communicating this to current and future talent to help with recruitment and retention. You can use your internal networks, such as diversity ambassadors and e-newsletters to communicate internally. And your website, social media channels and external media sites to communicate your culture externally. According to the 2019 Employer Branding Insights Report, 46% of jobseekers think their most recent employer does not effectively communicate their employer brand, yet 94% would consider an employer’s brand. You could be missing out on top talent by a. failing to have a diverse culture and b. not communicating your D&I values effectively. 
  • Ingrain diversity into your business culture: By making diversity a priority in your organisation, from your business and people strategy, through to your mission and vision, as Daniel Marks is doing, you will start to achieve a more inclusive culture that will benefit your people and profits alike.

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