Editor’s note: In August, PRSA will celebrate PR Diversity Month by focusing on the diverse communities, people and practices that comprise the public relations profession. We will also be providing advice and insight on how to build a better PR industry through diversity and inclusion. We’ve invited PR practitioners and thought leaders to offer their insights on various diversity and inclusion topics important to the PR profession. Follow the series and join the discussion by using the hashtag #PRDiversity. For more information on Diversity Month activities visit the Diversity Month section of the PRSA site.
PR Diversity Month is in full swing, and we’re celebrating by raising the bar when it comes to addressing diversity and inclusion in the field of communications and public relations.
What does diversity mean to you? With this year’s theme, “Shift: Diversity in Action,” our call to action must be to encourage our peers to think critically about that question. While the nation has taken greater steps towards equality, in many ways we still fall behind in a number of important categories. PR as a profession continues to fail in reflecting the variety of individuals and industries we serve. The profession’s leadership is additionally far behind in reflecting the diversity of the United States.
As an industry, what can we do to change this? To start, we can work together to share how we approach diversity in our professional lives, and ultimately elevate the conversation beyond race and ethnicity to reflect changing national sentiments.
Through “Shift: Diversity In Action,” not only will we continue the conversation relating to #PRDiversity, but we will also demonstrate #PRDiversity in action.
Our first step in showing action was to change the PRSA Diversity Committee’s name to the Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Although ethnic and racial diversity is a large part of our focus, “diversity” should be discussed in a broader context that is more inclusive of other audiences.
Additionally, we are hosting activities, from social programs, to blog posts (like this one), to Tweet Chats and more to spark conversations and meaningful exchanges about diversity in our industry. Here are a few ways you can engage with us this month:
- Hashtag #PRDiversity: When you use this hashtag on Facebook and Twitter, you will be connected with PRSA’s social media network to drive the conversation throughout the month. Us the hashtag to highlight events you’re attending, what you’re reading, what you’re thinking and the conversations you’re having both online and off on the topic of diversity in public relations.
- Tweet about it: Join our Twitter Chats where we will be discussing PRSA’s diversity-driven initiatives and exploring ways to increase awareness for the professional opportunities available in the PR profession.
- Check out our blog: PRSA will feature diversity-related blogs here throughout the month. Use the hashtag #PRDiversity in the search box to explore current and past topics.
- Enter for an award: PRSA National recently announced the opening date to nominate candidates for the PRSA Chapter Diversity Awards. Is your chapter pioneering efforts to raise awareness on this topic? Enter to be recognized.
We also need to make sure “PRSA Diversity & Inclusion” month is not just a moment in time to shine a light on this issue and move on. To ensure we have diversity in our industry we must also play an active role in advocating and encouraging students to explore the field of communications and public relations. We must educate the younger generation who are leading the charge on tackling important social issues on how they can leverage the public relations field to #RepresentYourVoice and make a difference.
Want to join the conversation? Be sure to check out the diversity section of the PRSA website for new topics, and stay updated on news and upcoming events throughout the month. We hope you’ll engage with us and with your colleagues – and we hope you’ll be inspired to turn your views on diversity into action.
Cheryll Forsatz, Chair of the PRSA Diversity & Inclusion Committee, is director of communications for McDonald’s New York Metro Region. As a communications adviser for McDonald’s flagship markets, which consist of more than 600 restaurants, she provides counsel on communications strategies for the region’s leadership team, staff and franchisees. She also works with McDonald’s U.S. Communications team on strategies to leverage New York City’s global prominence to build the McDonald’s brand. Follow Cheryll on Twitter at @PR_in_Real_Life.
Great initiative! 4 awesome and simple ways to participate in #PRDiversity in action.
That’s all well and good, but the biggest problem with the industry is not addressing its lack of diversity, namely non-white women diversity. In 2010, PRSA counted 73 percent of its members as women and the vast majority of the female segment are white women.
The first step in addressing a problem is acknowledgement. Until employers and practitioners get it out of their heads that there are more than white women (along with the occasional white male who has management to executive authority) who work in communications fields, then it’s basically going to be nothing more than talk.
There really needs to be an emphasis on employers and practitioners to stop focusing on one demographic (and primarily white females) when it comes to public relations positions:
* Forbes did a story in 2010 on the top college majors for females. Communications and technologies ranked seventh, citing that 62.5 percent of the college students who majored in communications in 2008 were women.
* The American Association of University Women did a survey in 2009 on the gender pay gap. The survey showed that 74 percent of the people who majored in public relations were women.
* The Atlantic did a story in 2014 on the number of women going into public relations. Women made up 63 percent of public relations specialists at the time, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, and 59 percent of all public relations managers. If you include the advertising world, the number is 60 percent.
* In 2010, Ragan.com reported that 73 percent of the 21,000 members of the Public Relations Society of America were female. Another estimate, from the chair of the PR department at Syracuse University, put the percentage of women in the industry at 85 percent.
The issue is going to be handled only when employers and practitioners acknowledge the problems.