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New Diversity Action Alliance Analysis Finds Only 21% of PR Professionals Are Racially or Ethnically Diverse

by | Aug 12, 2021

The Diversity Action Alliance (DAA), a coalition of public relations and communications leaders and industry organizations, released its inaugural “Race and Ethnicity in Public Relations and Communications Benchmark Report.” The report, which examines the racial and ethnic representation and promotion data of employees across 100+ U.S.-based public relations and communications organizations, documents that just over one-fifth (21%) of those employees are racially/ethnically diverse. Furthermore, of the total employee sample, 22% of employees were promoted in 2019. Of that 22%, less than a fifth of those promoted were racially/ethnically diverse.

“This Benchmark Report is part of the DAA’s commitment to track and measure where we are as an industry in order to develop strategic roadmaps and action plans to transform our industry to mirror the diversity of the U.S., which is currently at almost 40%,” said Carmella Glover, DAA President. “The DAA and our signatories believe we can correct what is clearly an industry problem by sharing innovative and successful practices and working together as an industry.”

Currently, 163 communications and public relations organizations have become DAA signatories and have committed to adopt innovative and successful practices, champion the importance of diversity for the industry, and share data annually as part of industry reporting. One hundred twenty-two signatories fulfilled their commitment to provide data for January 2019 through December 2019.

DAA Chair Denise Hill, Ph.D., APR, said, “We created the DAA to address diversity in the profession, and we intend to hold ourselves accountable by publishing the data. This Benchmark Report quantifies trends we are seeing across the industry, which are not distinctive to organization type or position, and are instead widespread and systemic.”

Some key findings from the report include:

  • Industry Breakdown of Racial and Ethnic Representation Falls Short: Across all organizations and position levels analyzed, 21% of employees are racially and ethnically diverse (7% Black/African American, 6% Hispanic/Latino, 6% Asian, 3% two or more races, and <1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander professionals, American Indian or Alaska Native professionals).
  • Lack of Diversity in Leadership: In terms of leadership, the position with the lowest percentage of racial and ethnic diversity is the most senior person in the communication function, department, agency, or company. Ninety-three percent of these top leaders are White, while 87% of executives who are one level below the top are White. Notably more diversity can be found among mid-level (19%), entry-level (26%) and admin ranks (44%).
  • Diverse Employees Promoted at Slower Rates: When looking at promotions in 2019 based on organization type, associations and nonprofits saw more diversity among promotions, with a breakdown of 62% White, 23% Black/African American, 8% Hispanic/Latino, 8% Asian and 2% two or more races. Corporations, professional services, and boutique agencies, as well as small, midsize, and large agencies, on average, ranged from 10-20% in diversity among promotions.
  • Limited Presence of a Chief Diversity Officer: Only about one-quarter (24%) of signatory respondents reported having a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) or an executive who leads DE&I initiatives within their organizations.

The DAA will release an updated report with 2020 numbers in the fall of 2021, including academic departments, and aims to encompass data from all 163 of the DAA’s signatories.

To learn more about the current state of racial and ethnic representation in the public relations and communications industry, download the full report.

Methodology

The Benchmark Report is based on data confidentially reported as of January 1, 2020 by 122 qualified organizations that are signatories of the DAA. Per the mission of the DAA, the analysis focused on the racial and ethnic diversity of organizations, and the categories of analysis are in line with the guidelines of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). An organization’s top communicator, leader or CEO is accounted for in a separate category to that of its employee base, and to ensure confidentiality, organizations that have a low sample size are placed in the “other” category.


About the Diversity Action Alliance

The Diversity Action Alliance (DAA) is a coalition of Public Relations and communications leaders joining forces to accelerate progress in achieving meaningful and tangible results in diversity, equity and inclusion across our profession. The DAA’s goal is to achieve continuous improvement for professionals of color as measured by recruitment, retention and representation at all levels. For more information about the Diversity Action Alliance, visit https://www.diversityactionalliance.org/ and follow the DAA on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

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