I think this must be the blog post I’ve struggled with the most to draft. This is not only because of the subject matter but also because I’m actually addressing my own views on the issue. The subject is diversity and the issue is the lack thereof in PR.
Being a trainee on the Taylor Bennett Foundation can be blinding at times because we get the opportunity to meet some of the most influential people at top PR agencies and In-House teams. Blinding in the sense that the opportunities the programme provides are what many people like us (those from BAME) would never be delusional enough to dream of. I say delusional because, within reason, you must get a certain level of success in your applications and subsequent career to be awarded the opportunity to meet the Global Head of Communications at Vodafone. BAMEs looking to get into PR rarely ever get past the first stage.
I would concede and accept that there are steps being taken but they don’t really go far enough. As something that is increasingly being regarded as a hot agenda in the industry, several experts have made their comments on the issue of diversity. Below is one such contribution to the diversity conversation that resonated with me the most as it is closely aligned with my own views on the matter:
Jo-ann Robertson, deputy CEO at Ketchum London, argues more diversity would improve the profession. ‘As a profession, PR is about connecting to people by telling authentic and creative stories. Having a workforce that is representative of our society enables us to connect in a truly authentic way. If we don’t embrace diversity, we risk missing out on talent within our workforce. And without diversity of thinking, we risk omitting – if not alienating – a very significant market for us and our clients.’
I agree so much with what Jo-Ann says because not only does she recognise how that lack of diversity means lack of holistic campaigns but also the missed opportunities to make truly authentic connections.
The debate goes beyond PR because an article by the Harvard Business Review claims how diverse teams are smarter. ‘Nonhomogeneous teams are simply smarter’ it argues. It adds to that by stating how ‘working with people who are different from you may challenge your brain to overcome its stale ways of thinking and sharpen its performance.’
When you add numbers to the mix, you’ll find that the reward of achieving a more diverse workforce is having an organisation that can outperform its competitors by up to 35%, according to a recent report by management consultants McKinsey.
So, what does this all mean? Well, it’s simple. Diversity should go beyond being a buzzword and be a key focus for PR companies and In-House teams looking to provide their clients with the best they could creatively offer. Those in charge of recruitment for agencies should really consider the masses of talent that are not being provided with an opportunity to thrive in the industry. Why? Well, that’s the simple part because diverse PR teams would enable the industry to produce campaigns which can resonate to all stakeholders in a way that they don’t as things currently stand.
As a trainee on the Taylor Bennett Foundation, my aim is to showcase that we (BAMEs) can do it too!