Diversity drives workplace results

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations conducted a study that found that public relations remains dominated by white, predominantly middle-class professionals, accounting for 90% of respondents. Black, African, Caribbean and Black British professionals accounted for just 2% of responses, with Asian respondents accounting for the same tiny proportion. The PRCA – the industry’s trade association in the UK – reported similar findings, with an overwhelming 91% of respondents to their survey identifying as ‘white’ or ‘white other’.

Whilst the PR industry as a whole is unrepresentative of modern day society, the built environment PR industry is even less diverse, with only 1.2% of the profession identifying as BAME. In our ever-diversifying world, where we communicate and engage with a range of communities and cultures, the industry needs to adapt and respond to the changing audience. Simply having consultation websites that translate from English to other languages will not suffice.

I was fortunate enough to be selected in the first cohort of BME Pro’s mentorship scheme. The scheme offered expert mentoring to help people from minority backgrounds develop their skill sets and encourage more BME individuals to join the PR industry.

15 senior PR professionals from black, Asian minority ethnic backgrounds were selected to mentor 15 rising PR stars who want to develop their skills and help increase the number of BME individuals in leadership roles. I was paired with Charandeep Singh; head of external relations at the Scottish Chamber of Commerce, former Scottish parliamentary candidate and recognised by PR weekly in their 30 under 30 List 2016.

The mentorship to date has re-affirmed to me the importance of understanding the needs of target audiences. Too often, as communications and PR professionals we can find ourselves sharing information in the ways we have become accustomed and without considering how our audience would best receive said information.

Diversity and differing experiences can cultivate positive and innovative working environments. These environments don’t just encourage us to think outside of the box, they actively discourage professionals from getting drawn into one in the first place. Evidence shows that diverse teams are more likely to outperform those that are less diverse and inclusive.

Overall, the message is clear: the industry has a lack of diversity and inclusion and this is to its own detriment. Decisive action must be taken to address this issue. Recruit, develop and retain talent that will reflect a variety of views and different ways of thinking.

More information on the BME PR Pros mentorship scheme can be found here

This article was written by Mabel Ogundayo, Account Manager at MPC.