This is the first in a series of blog posts about how communications teams and agencies can ensure a diverse and inclusive workplace—and why it matters.
Businesses across all industries have increased their investment in diversity and inclusion practices. This focus is particularly important for the public relations field, which still struggles with racial and ethnic representation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the public relations industry is 85 percent white (compared to 78 percent in the U.S. workforce). As a black PR professional, I have experienced this lack of diversity first hand and understand what it means to be the first or only communicator of color in the room. As our audiences continue to diversify, our industry must adapt. To reflect these changing audiences, communications agencies and teams must increase their focus on recruiting, hiring and retaining talent from underrepresented groups, from entry-level positions to C-suite executives.
Here are the top reasons why increasing diversity should be a priority for communications professionals and agencies:
- Better understanding of consumers: As audiences become more diverse, communications teams that reflect that diversity become essential. Diverse teams can better understand the clients and communities they are trying to reach. Without diversity, at best you risk missing key trends, strategies and opportunities. At worst, you risk being tone deaf and problematic.
- Diversity matters to your clients: We are starting to see organizations wanting their comms agencies to reflect their audiences’ diversity. For many, it is a requirement to get their business. A strong and clear commitment to cultivating a diverse and equitable comms team is critical to attracting clients and maintaining your bottom line.
- New perspectives foster creativity and innovation: Diverse communications teams ensure there are multiple perspectives. This is needed to disrupt the echo chamber of like-minded communicators. With diverse perspectives and experiences, a team can create more innovative content to promote your cause or client—and thus reach more people.
- Diversity and inclusion matter to young professionals: Every agency and team wants to recruit top talent. A company-wide emphasis on diversity and inclusion can help accomplish that. The Institute of Public Relations and Weber Shandwick’s “Millennials@Work: Perspectives on Diversity & Inclusion” 2016 study found that 47 percent of millennials consider diversity and inclusion an important factor in their job search, compared to 33 percent of Generation Xers and 37 percent of Baby Boomers. A strong focus on diversity and inclusion can give a company a strategic advantage in recruitment efforts.
Stay tuned for part 2 of our series: How to Promote an Inclusive & Equitable Workplace.