The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) in the UK launched its diversity action programme in 2005 at the World PR Conference in Trieste. It follows work developed by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and considerable work by the advertising industry in the UK to attract an ethnically diverse workforce into the creative industries.
At the same time as the public relations profession grows, it simultaneously becomes more diverse and inclusive. Recent surveys show that there are already considerably more women working in PR than there are men. And, if anything, this trend is likely to accelerate – the vast majority of PR university students and new entrants to the PR profession are female. PR moreover remains an overwhelmingly 'white' profession, with far too few high-profile PR role models from minority groups. One of the key responsibilities borne by the CIPR is to lead the profession, and to help it face up to entrenched problems. The low visibility of minority groups is one such problem.
In broad definition terms and the social context, the term diversity refers to the presence in one population of a wide variety of cultures, languages, physical features, socio-economic backgrounds, opinions, religious beliefs, sexuality and gender identity.
At the international level, diversity refers to the existence of many peoples contributing their unique experiences to humanity's culture.
In a business context, diversity is approached as a strategy for improving employee retention and increasing consumer confidence. The 'business case for diversity', as it is often phrased, is that in a global and diverse marketplace, a company whose makeup mirrors the makeup of the marketplace it serves is better equipped to thrive in that marketplace than a company whose makeup is homogeneous.
Specifically in PR there is a long way to go in terms of addressing the diversity issue. There is no research which gives the basic facts on the ethnicity, age, social background, sexual orientation or disability of public relations practitioners in the UK. However the CIPR has anecdotal evidence of the following themes. Black and Asian candidates are not represented in PR, partly because of the image of the industry itself, but partly because there is a belief that there are barriers to promotion. There is some evidence that older graduates find it more difficult to secure a first job than 'traditional' graduates. PR still attracts middle-class people, although there is some evidence that candidates from working-class backgrounds are now entering the profession and doing well.
- Graen, G. B. (ed.) (2003) Dealing with Diversity. Champaign-Urbana, IL: IAP.
- Harvard Business Review (2001) Managing Diversity. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
- Creative-world: The Fish Can Sing's Guide to the New Creative Economy. London: The Fish Can Sing Ltd. , , , and (2005)
- The Evolution of Cultural Diversity. A Phylogenetic Approach. London: Routledge Cavendish. , and (2005)
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