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Seven key points from the new PRCA Diversity & Inclusion Guidelines

The PR and Communications industry must do a much better job at representing the people we serve.

That’s the message from the new PRCA Diversity and Inclusion Guidelines, which look at the current state of diversity in the industry.

The guidelines outline the business case for improving diversity and offer practical steps to make the PR and Communications industry more diverse and inclusive.

Long journeys are made up of many small steps.

And a simple commitment to adopt a more rigorous and committed approach from your PR and communications team and the rest of your organisation will help you go a long way.

Here’s a quick review of seven key points from the guidelines that are worth highlighting.

#1 2018 will be a defining year for diversity in PR and Communications

According to PRCA Director General Francis Ingham, the combination of the new PRCA PR and Communications Census and these diversity and inclusion guidelines will drive real change.

There are of course people who have worked in the industry long enough to feel like they may have heard that real change is coming before. And these same people will have seen too much bright talent from underrepresented backgrounds try and fail to grow a successful career in our industry.

But there is real carrot and stick. The PR and Communications Census will keep a sharp focus on the make-up of our industry, and the guidelines give clear steps to help practitioners understand and improve diversity. That’s why it’s essential we all engage with the report and implement the guidelines to make 2018 a historical year.

We think a long-overdue sea-change is coming and although the results may not be seen immediately, they will change the composition and fairness of our industry forever.

#2 Current state of diversity and inclusion in PR and Communications

The guidelines offer a clear picture of how diverse and inclusive the PR and Communications is, or rather, isn’t, based on data from the PRCA’s PR Census in 2016. Firstly, the industry is 91% White and 83% British. And although 64% of practitioners in the industry are women, 64% of senior roles such as Board Directors/ Partners are held by men.

Just 2% of PR and communications practitioners disclose that they have a disability. Considering that around one in five people in the UK have a disability, this isn’t good news. The gap is likely a combination of practitioners who don’t feel comfortable declaring their disability, and the fact that PR and Communications needs to do much better at attracting disabled talent. But there is good news as 78% of practitioners believe that there are no significant obstacles to employing disabled people.

Overall, the message is clear: the industry has a lack of diversity and inclusion and it must take decisive action to address this now. As Francis Ingham says in the foreword to the guidelines: “If we want to communicate effectively with the public, then we need to be more like the public: these PRCA Diversity and Inclusion Guidelines form part of that mission.”

#3 Why should PR and Communications teams become more diverse and inclusive?

There is a moral obligation to make the PR and Communications industry more diverse and inclusive, to ensure people from underrepresented groups have a chance to thrive. This is backed up by the clear business case. In short, diverse and inclusive teams outperform those that are less diverse and inclusive.

The guidelines reference McKinsey’s Diversity Matters report, which showed that organisations in the top quarter for diversity are more likely to outperform their non-diverse counterparts.

The report also showed the impact elements like gender and ethnic diversity:

·         Gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform less diverse companies, whereas

·         Ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform less diverse companies.

·         Diverse companies are more likely to win top talent, improve decision making, improve employee satisfaction, and reach a wider customer base.

#4 Create a diversity and inclusion mission statement or policy

If your organisation is at the start of your mission to become truly diverse and inclusive, it can be daunting to know exactly where to start. As the guidelines state, creating a diversity and inclusion mission statement or policy for your organisation is a great starting point.

You can find a great example of an equality policy by Acas on page 12 of the guide to help you get started with yours. This template is an example you can adapt or develop to meet your organisation’s needs. For more information, see the Acas guide, Prevent Discrimination: Support Equality.

#5 Monitor and collect diversity metrics through employee surveys and equality impact assessments.

To improve diversity in your workplace you first need to measure its current state. To do this you should monitor and collect diversity data through employee surveys and equality impact assessments.

This should include monitoring data such as gender, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, age, disability and socio-economic background of employees. You can compare your results to national research like statistics compiled by the ONS.

If there are significant disparities between your organisation and national levels you can use an equality impact assessment to identify and remove the barriers affecting under-represented groups. 

#6 Introduce fair and transparent recruitment practices

Inclusive recruitment practices must be at the heart of addressing the lack diversity in PR and Communications.

This requires action in a number of areas including tackling unconscious bias. The guidelines cite steps recommended by Acas you can follow to overcome unconscious bias in your organisation (Acas, Unconscious Bias):

·         Be aware of unconscious bias.

·         Don’t rush decisions, rather, take your time and consider issues properly.

·         Justify decisions by evidence and record the reasons for your decisions, for example during a recruitment exercise.

·         Try to work with a wider range of people and get to know them as individuals. This could include working with different teams or colleagues based in a different location.

·         Focus on the positive behaviour of people and not negative stereotypes.

·         Employers should implement policies and procedures which limit the influence of individual characteristics and preferences. 

Other inclusive recruitment practices include making job adverts accessible to all candidates. This involves placing adverts on different websites like VERCIDA, which is an accessible online diversity and recruitment resourcing platform.

It helps employers attract candidates from diverse backgrounds in a pro-active way through positive action, while clearly showcasing their employer value proposition.

The platform also offers jobseekers all the information they need to make an informed decision about whether an employer is the right fit for them.

You can also work groups like the Taylor Bennett Foundation, the PRCA’s charity partner, which works with young people from diverse backgrounds and connects them with organisations in the PR and communications industry.

#7 Attract more disabled talent

As mentioned earlier, just 2% of PR and communications practitioners disclose that they have a disability. But around twenty per cent of the UK population have a disability, which shows that disabled people are particularly under-represented in PR and Communications.

PR and Communications has to do more to at attract and retain disabled talent. Also, under the Equality Act 2010 all employers must make reasonable adjustments to ensure disabled job applicants and employees don’t face any substantial disadvantages in doing their jobs.

Jobcentre Plus has an Access to Work scheme that can help fund any costs required to make reasonable adjustments. It is a specialist disability service that provides practical advice and support to disabled people to enable them to work effectively. .

You should also sign up for The Disability Confident Employer scheme, which is one of a number of Government initiatives designed to get more disabled people into work. You will need to make reasonable adjustments for disabled job candidates or progress through the scheme.

And you can also get involved with the Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative (RIDI), which drives change in recruitment and removes the barriers faced by the millions of disabled people who are entering or progressing through the job market.

Download the guidelines now and start making your organisation and your PR and Communications team fully diverse and inclusive:


*This blog first appeared on the Big Voice Communications website.

Gavin B Harris MPRCA is a freelance PR Account Manager and copywriter. He works for agencies including diversity and inclusion communications consultancy Big Voice Communications. If you need help with accessible and inclusive communications contact Big Voice Communications now.