In 2007 when the Taylor Bennett Foundation was formed very few people were talking about diversity in PR. Certainly no one was thinking about how to address it, but in the past decade things have moved on.
In 2017 there is far more interest in the business case for diversity, and the social justice implications for the industry. Forward-thinking businesses are taking steps to address the lack of diversity in their own organisations.
Across the industry, business leaders are considering issues that include the gender pay gap, progression for female employees, access to the industry to young BAME people and those from poorer backgrounds, inclusion for LGBT practitioners and lack of support for disabled practitioners.
It’s important that these issues are openly discussed, that challenges are acknowledged and practical steps are then taken to address them.
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Diversity in PR panel
To help with that, I’ve pulled together a panel of speakers for #PRFest in June. Each of these speakers represents organisations that are working very hard to address different diversity issues within the PR industry. We hope that the opportunity to discuss a wide range of diversity and inclusion issues will give practitioners the opportunity to discover why it’s important that diversity is taken seriously, how to take practical steps to make a difference in their own organisations and to learn about best practice.
At the Foundation we hope to launch one of our traineeship programmes in Scotland later this year, which will be lead by Anne Groves. The Taylor Bennett Foundation has had a measurable effect on improving access to the industry for BAME graduates – 83% of our alumni now work in PR – so Anne is keen to share our lessons learned and talk about the barriers to the industry for young BAME people.
To speak about the wider issues of diversity, inclusion and the importance of intersectionality within the PR industry, as well as the overall experiences of BAME PR practitioners, Ronke Lawal, Founder of Ariatu PR, joins the panel.
Women in PR is also launching in Scotland this year. Led by President, Mary Whenman, WIPR is a networking organisation whose membership spans women at board level in agencies, in-house comms directors, owners of boutique consultancies and independent consultants. Its mission is to support gender balance in the boardroom, future female talent and the next generation of female leaders in the PR industry.
Ethan Spibey leads the PRCA’s LGBT group and is a speaker on the importance of employer support of the LGBT workforce to build a more diverse group of employees.
Sarah Hall, CIPR President Elect, will chair the panel. Her #FutureProof publications have included contributions on diversity, social mobility and mental health and she cited diversity as one of her election pledges, so is well placed to quiz the panelists on the practical issues facing companies looking to improve diversity and widen their talent pools, and the steps the industry as a whole needs to take to address issues of diversity and inclusion.
Blog post by Sarah Stimson, Chief Executive of the Taylor Bennett Foundation, editor of PRcareers.co.uk, author of How to Get a Job in PR, contributor to #FutureProof2 and the winner of the 2016 #Unaward for diversity from Comms2Point0