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Making the business case for diversity – still a major PR job

Pema Seely, Client Director at Hudson Sandler and co-chair of the PRCA’s Diversity Group

Ahead of the launch of the PRCA Diversity Group event we commissioned research to better understand perceptions around diversity in our industry. We spoke to a panel of five industry professionals and asked them everything from the importance of diversity to barriers to change. The panel included:

Ethan Spibey CMPRCA, Chairman, PRCA LGBT Group @EthanLDN

Mary Whenman CMPRCA, President, Women in PR @MaryWhenman

Mavis Amankwah, Diversity Specialist, Rich Visions @MavisAmankwah

Alexander Clelland MPRCA, Board Director, Hudson Sandler @HudsonSandler

Loveday Langton CMPRCA, Group People and Culture Director, Hotwire @LovedayL

Interestingly, the survey found that although diversity is viewed as the biggest industry challenge by survey respondents, it only ranks as a mid-priority business issue in the survey. We know intuitively that diversity matters but why is it not viewed as business-critical?

It may be that companies know diversity is important and can enhance their business but don’t see its direct impact on their business’ bottom line. However, there is an increasing amount of research that demonstrates that diversity enhances a business’s performance, regardless of sector or size. One example, the 2015 McKinsey report Diversity Matters found that there is a linear relationship between racial/ethnic diversity and improved financial performance – the bottom line? Prioritising diversity is a no-brainer.

Worryingly, the survey results reinforce the idea that diversity is still narrowly viewed through the lenses of gender and ethnicity. Something which underlines the work that remains to be done, because how can we drive change if we don’t know the issues? Even as the case of diversity becomes more compelling, it is evident that there is a need to educate and inform the industry on broader diversity issues.

It is reassuring to see that the industry remains hopeful that the industry will become more diverse over the next five years. We’re not suggesting that achieving greater diversity is easy however until it moves higher up the internal agenda then we will never progress forward.

I am looking forward to working with the PRCA and its members to turn talk into action… watch this space.

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