Over the past few years, the issue of racial and ethnic minority representation has taken center stage.
We’ve seen campaigns from well-known brands ranging from Airbnb to Budweiser to Coca-Cola touch on important topics such as immigration and diversity. This shift has been a wonderful starting point, but we’re nowhere near finished. There continues to be an indisputable lack of diversity within the PR field, particularly where talent is concerned.
Consider that as of July 2017, people of color made up more than 41 percent of the population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Our talent pool needs to adapt with the changing demographics in our nation; otherwise, it’s very unlikely that we can remain in the sphere of relevance. Even still, the issue of representation isn’t something we can fix with the wave of a magic wand, and that’s most likely why many PR firms have remained so homogenous: They simply do not know where to start.
Inertia, however, is no longer an option.
The Case for Diversity
PR firms need to exhibit diversity and inclusion within their own walls for one simple reason: The modern workforce demands it.
A recent study found that nearly 50 percent of Millennials prioritize diversity and inclusion when searching for jobs — a full 14 percent more than members of Gen X and 10 percent more than Baby Boomers. Millennials feel that diversity creates a better work environment, increases opportunities, and boosts morale. And the official data on the subject validates these sentiments.
According to research by Cloverpop, inclusive teams make better business decisions 87 percent of the time. Still more research from McKinsey confirms that companies with more diverse executive boards are 35 percent more likely to financially outperform the average company within their industry.
The data is clear: PR leaders who focus on diversity and inclusion will do a better job of keeping their employees engaged and their firms profitable.
Break the Inertia
If PR firms wish to thrive in this ever-evolving market, we must become more inclusive. That means recruiting, developing, and retaining talent that will accurately reflect our world. Here’s how to get started:
- Take stock of where your firm stands.
What does your current team look like? What are your diversity and inclusion goals? And how can you set benchmarks for meeting these goals? Revisit these questions frequently to be sure that your company’s shifting needs are met. Think of diversity as a concept beyond race, age, gender, and nationality, too. Consider the wide range of talents and backgrounds of your potential employees, regardless of their outward appearance.
- Target recruitment efforts to fill the gaps.
For example, if you tend to focus your recruitment efforts on the same local university year after year, consider breaking from your usual habits to build relationships at organizations outside your comfort zone.
- Create a culture that embraces a diverse crew.
Once you onboard new employees, keep them engaged and excited about joining your company. Create opportunities for them to forge bonds with your “old guard.” Creating a culture of acceptance is particularly important for Millennial members of your team.
At Mitchell, we’re committed to diversity in our workplace. Our agency is woman-led, and we’re clear and intentional when it comes to the issue of inclusion. But we don’t have all the answers. We’re still learning, evolving, and growing. It starts by making a deliberate choice to prioritize this important issue. What programs and best practices do you or your firm implement to ensure a diverse workforce?