PRSA Foundation reveals a diversity disconnect among comms pros

by | Jan 17, 2019 | Public Relations

A new survey from the PRSA Foundation reveals that while the majority (85 percent) of communications professionals believe diversity in the workplace is either important or very important to them, only 27 percent believe they’re currently working at an organization that is meaningfully or very diverse.

The survey follows the PRSA Foundation’s recent book launch of Diverse Voices: Profiles in Leadership, a compilation of personal stories from more than 40 of the communications industry’s top agency leaders, corporate professionals and educators who are of diverse backgrounds. The book was published in partnership with the Museum of Public Relations.

“The data reinforces the need to accelerate our efforts to create a more inclusive and diverse workplace that better reflects the demographics of the stakeholders we serve,” said Judith Harrison, PRSA Foundation president, in a news release. “Candid dialogue initiated through efforts like the PRSA Foundation and the Museum of Public Relations’ Diverse Voices book and awareness program lays critical groundwork for faster, measurable progress on recruitment results and increasing overall engagement in diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Heightened intensity of social and political issues has caused previously “off-limits” topics like race, immigration and sexuality to become more prevalent in the workplace, forcing CEOs and company leadership to take notice and address the concerns of their employee base.

Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of survey respondents said their organization has responded to the increased awareness of diversity issues in news media. Forty-five percent of those individuals shared that their organizations have implemented actions related to diversity and inclusion as a result of these conversations, and 30 percent said conversations are happening, but there have not been any internal actions put in place.

The PRSA Foundation shares some steps to help professionals encourage a more diverse and inclusive workplace:

Education and awareness

Advocate for your organization to adopt/offer educational programming on increasing diversity and inclusion. Learning how to identify and address challenges like unconscious bias and unintentional racism can go a long way in fostering a more inclusive environment.

Create a dialogue

Work with your Human Resources (HR) and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) teams to identify and engage a professional expert to help lead organized conversations or town hall events on how to improve diversity and support an inclusive mindset within your organization.

Hiring and retention practices

Encourage your HR and DEI teams to audit your company’s hiring and retention practices to ensure that they align with the best practices employed by organizations that are leaders in diversity and inclusion (i.e., Diversity Inc.’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity).

Champion diverse talent

Make an effort to act as a mentor and/or sponsor to young, multicultural students and professionals. Serving as a champion and helping to ensure that diverse talent is recognized can make a huge difference to their career path and your organization overall.

PRSA Foundation conducted a proprietary survey of conference attendees at the annual PRSA and PRSSA annual conferences from October 5-9, 2018 in Austin, TX as well as at a Diverse Voices book launch event on December 4, 2018. Survey respondents included communications professional of all levels, as well as student and educators. Percentages are based on 162 responses.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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