Diversity within public relations rebooted

“It has become painfully obvious that the topic of diversity within the PR industry requires us all to have some urgent, complex and potentially uncomfortable discussions at a cross-industry level. Whilst these conversations have recently been gaining momentum in terms of volume and prominence, now is the time to shift our priorities towards the exploration, creation and practical implementation of deliverable solutions that address D&I issues head-on. 

“We should all be thankful then, that PRFest provided a much-needed space for the topic of diversity within public relations to be rebooted. As PR and communication professionals, we need to collectively define the actual challenges and opportunities that diversity presents to our industry. Thanks to the wide range of voices that were represented at last week’s PRFest session, we are now able to focus our efforts on where the industry needs to go and the best route to get us all there safely. The DRIVEN framework that was explored in the opening session and its online breakout rooms has given us a renewed sense of confidence and direction.

“I am grateful to Laura Sutherland for her support and commitment to helping shape an industry-wide manifesto on diversity and inclusion practices. I’d also like to thank Kuldeep Mehmi for co-hosting the PRFest session alongside Laura and myself. All of the ideas, suggestions and strategies that emerged from PRFest have been captured in a collaborative online document which will evolve into a structured list of guidelines, actions and processes for all to access.” Rax Lakhani, Chair of PRCA’s Diversity and Inclusion Network

Thanks, Rax, it’s been great to work with you on this and thanks to Kuldeep and everyone who contributed at PRFest.

I thought it would be handy to pull some of those thoughts out right now, as immediate actions, so you can start to shape your own policies and figure out how you will adapt and be more inclusive. These have come from the DRIVEN framework we launched at PRFest (Diversity, Representation, Inclusion, Validation, Equity, Network)

Suggestions of immediate actions:

  1. Speak to, donate and volunteer to mentor at Taylor Bennett Foundation, encouraging and helping BAME graduates into public relations
  2. Proactively offer your platform (whether it’s a blog, podcast or event) as an opportunity to have representation from different communities – whether it’s BAME, sex, LGBTQ, age, disability or socio-economic background
  3. If you’re asked to speak at an event, ask the organiser who else is speaking and ensure there is a diverse line-up. If it’s not, offer your place to someone from a minority community
  4. Think about your business. How can you ensure your processes are fit for a diverse and indeed inclusive business (not matter how big it is)? For example, even freelancers can ensure diversity in their business by looking at supply chains, developing a more diverse network and actively seeking conversations
  5. Revise your recruitment policy and set goals and timescales. Go wider in your recruitment process, specifically ask the likes of Taylor Bennett Foundation for recommendations. Think of the barriers you are putting in place. For example, “degree required”, or only recruiting from certain colleges/universities.
  6. Look at your leadership – who do they represent at a glance? How can you actively make the leadership more diverse and give longer-term opportunities?
  7. Look at your organisational culture. What does that culture say about your business? Ask your team, clients, colleagues. How can the culture be more inclusive to ensure people from all backgrounds feel part of the business and valued? We talked at PRFest about a range of challenges such as dress codes and Friday drinks
  8. Sharing content from a diverse range of people in your network
  9. Consider seeking diversity and ethnicity training and embedding this into inductions and annual CPD. Train management in recognising and dealing with situations which may arise
  10. Report on your diversity and inclusion regularly and highlight the good work of those team members

There’s still time to feed into the manifesto and the challenges we have identified which need addressed. Please see the DRIVEN framework and challenges here and feel free to contribute your solutions and ideas.

Additional resources:

PRovoke – 10 commitments PR Firms can make to advance racial equity

PRovoke’s published targets and data

PRCA sets out plans to address ethnic diversity in PR


A new initiative BAME 2020


(If you have any more suggestions, reports, links etc please send them my way to add)

My own changes:

As I mentioned at PRFest, I also have committed to change and here is how I am making changes right now. When I get a breath (it’s been a very busy few weeks as you can imagine), I’ll be thinking how I can formalise my approach across my brand suite – Aura PR, Aura Academy, PRFest and PR Space:

  1. Take a collaborative approach – so far, I’ve spent days of my own time speaking to PRCA, CIPR and a range of organisations and communities in public relations to discuss the manifesto idea, and encourage a collaborative approach to solution. This is no job for you, me or one organisation. It needs to be a collaborative and conscious effort
  2. Launch DRIVEN framework at PRFest and develop a draft manifesto for industry (ongoing work)
  3. Speak at #CommsHero alongside colleague Rax, and reach another audience (date tbc)
  4. Review speaker pitch process for PRFest (later in 2020)
  5. Widen my own and PRFest’s network and actively seek a more diverse audience (ongoing)

My inbox is always open laura@aura-pr.com and my mobile is always on 07764 936840. Please do get in touch if you’d like to chat.

I’ll keep everyone up to speed with what’s going on.

Thank you for your continued support.