With Black History Month fast approaching, it’s a good time to reflect upon the state of diversity and inclusion within PR. As with any industry, creating a culture that promotes inclusion and diversity is important, but when we look at the PR industry it becomes evident that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to achieve this.
A statistic from PRWeek highlights the lack of diversity that still exists within PR, as 1 in 5 PR agencies in the UK still have an all-white workforce. Another article notes that just 5% of employees in the PR sector are gay or lesbian. Evidently, there is still some work left to be done. So, what can we do? Here are some ways you can help create a workplace environment that thrives with diversity and inclusivity.
In recent years, there has been an increasing focus on promoting equal pay in the workplace. The goal is to promote inclusion and workplace diversity by ensuring that employees are paid equally for doing the same job, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, or other factors.
This can have a number of positive effects on the workplace. Firstly, it can help to attract and retain top, diverse talent. It can also foster a more positive and productive work environment, since employees will feel valued and respected. Furthermore, it can help to promote a more diverse range of perspectives and ideas, which can lead to innovation and creativity. Ultimately, equal pay is about creating a fairer and more inclusive workplace for everyone.
Use Gender-neutral language
When putting out job advertisements, it is helpful to include gender-neutral pronouns such as “they/them/their”. Tools such as Textio are a great way to start doing this as they can automatically change pronouns in pieces of text. Using gender-neutral or more gender-inclusive language is a quick, easy way to really help to make the PR industry more inclusive and welcoming.
Celebrate important events for under-represented groups
The workplace is a microcosm of the wider world, so it stands to reason that important events for underrepresented cultures should be acknowledged in the workplace too. For example, adding events such as Juneteenth and Black History Month to the official company calendar and holding activities such as workshops about black history and culture shows an awareness of these important dates. It is an important time to remember the contribution of black people to society, and to celebrate their achievements.
The workplace is also a great place to promote pride in all its forms. Pride events are held all over the world to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community, and many workplaces now have their own internal Pride celebrations. This is a great way to show employees that they are valued and respected, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. By acknowledging and celebrating the holidays of underrepresented identities, we can make the workplace a more inclusive environment for everyone.
Expand your holiday calendar
Acknowledging the holidays of different cultures is another fantastic way to create an inclusive culture within PR. It’s a simple way of making those who are from different cultures at your agency feel included and valued. On top of this, understanding that those from different cultures will require different holidays and being respectful of this.
For instance, it’s important to note that other faiths have different major celebrations such as Eid or Hanukkah and employees who follow these faiths will need certain days off work. Worktango is a great resource that provides a clear breakdown of all the major holidays throughout the year, which you can use to identify ones that are important to add to your own workplace calendar.
Recognise any unconscious bias
In today’s workplace, it’s more important than ever to be conscious of diversity and inclusion. With the workforce becoming increasingly diverse, it’s essential that businesses make an effort to acknowledge and minimise unconscious bias. Unconscious bias can manifest itself in many ways, from the hiring process to the way employees are treated on a day-to-day basis.
Unconscious bias commonly occurs in the hiring process and recruitment, with a statistic from BrightTalk showing that 79% of HR professionals believe that unconscious bias exists in the recruitment phase. This can have an enormous impact on developing an inclusive and diverse workforce, but there are things that can be done to help minimise this. For example, organisations should look out for instances of “culture fit” being used as a reason for rejecting candidates in the hiring process, as this can sometimes indicate unconscious bias.
A recent study found that bias is still rife in the workplace, with over 70% of employees admitting to holding some form of bias. Left unchecked, bias can result in a workforce that is not truly representative of the wider community. Requiring employees to take part in inclusion and diversity training, for example, is an effective way of helping individuals learn to recognise their own biases and how these might impact others. By creating an open and inclusive environment, we can encourage employees to challenge their own biases and contribute to a more diverse and equitable workplace.
Signage in the workplace
Whether you currently have a diverse workforce at your agency or are striving to establish and foster one, creating a variety of signs can help to further create this. It is a seemingly simple yet very effective way of creating an inclusive culture. For example, putting up signs in different languages helps to let those of different ethnicities and cultures feel welcome and safe.
Include the option for pronouns in email signatures
Another way to promote inclusion in PR is to allow employees to include their pronouns in their email signatures. This simple act can help to create a more inclusive space, and it sends a strong message that everyone is welcome, regardless of their gender.
It would also be very useful to encourage your cis-gender employees to include their pronouns as well as it can help normalise the process of asking for and providing pronouns, which is important for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. Inclusion is essential for the success of any workplace, and encouraging employees to include their pronouns in their email signature is one small way to promote inclusion.
Actively encourage growth in the workplace
Provide a platform for equal access to growth right from the get-go. Your focus shouldn’t just be on attracting diverse talent, it should also be about retaining the rich, diverse talent pool you currently have. If you do not provide and encourage growth within your agency then your diverse and talented employees are going to look elsewhere for other opportunities and places which they can grow and further their career in.
You want to foster growth and give people a break early on, helping to create a sense of belonging right from the start. If your employees feel like they can reach their full potential at your agency, they are going to want to stay and grow alongside you.
Make the office wheelchair accessible
When most people think about making their workplace more inclusive, they tend to focus on activities like diversity training or unconscious bias workshops. While these are important steps, there is another equally important way to make your workplace more inclusive: ensuring that it is physically accessible to everyone, regardless of ability.
Making your agency’s office wheelchair accessible is a good place to start. This can involve something as simple as ensuring that there are no steps at the entrance, or providing ramps and lifts to all floors. Other measures may include widening doorways and installing adjustable desks and chairs. Don’t forget other accessibility-friendly measures such as providing Braille signage.
Communicate with your employees
It’s all well and good claiming to strive for inclusion, but if you only have a few select individuals deciding what a diverse and inclusive culture looks like in your workforce, then you’re missing the point. It’s important to listen to your employees to learn about changes they would like to see within the workplace that would help make them feel safe and comfortable. Attempting to create an inclusive company culture is only authentic if it aligns with employees’ values as well.
A good way to achieve this is by holding regular meetings amongst team members. During these meetings, encourage open communication and take note of their thoughts on what they’d like to see accomplished short term and long-term regarding inclusion and diversity.
As part of an inclusive culture, it’s also important to be aware of the other commitments that your staff may have. Their PR career may very well be one important thing to your staff members, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of their free time and spending time with family. If you notice any of your employees struggling with work-life balance, try communicating openly with them to see how you can help support them.
Encourage senior leaders to take diversity training
As we’ve previously mentioned, workplace diversity and inclusion training is an important step in creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce. But it shouldn’t just be limited to your employees. In fact, it’s just as important for those in senior positions to take part in diversity training as well. By requiring senior leaders to undertake this training, it helps to ensure that those at the very top of your company are just as committed to promoting diversity and inclusion within the workplace.
This training can also help senior leaders identify their own unconscious biases, learn how to be allies for marginalised groups, and understand the importance of intersectionality.
In addition, senior leaders who have undergone this training are in a better position to create inclusive policies and practices that will support a more diverse workforce. As a result, workplace diversity and inclusion training can play a vital role in creating a more equitable and inclusive workplace.
Create safe spaces
Safe spaces are a really important way to make individuals feel comfortable within your agency. Many organisations have taken note of this, creating gender-neutral toilets and bathrooms, which is an excellent way of ensuring that your employees feel safe regardless of their gender.
ERGs (employee resource groups) are another great way of creating a safe space. These employee-led groups help to create an envrioment that fosters diversity and inclusion by providing a platform for those who may have shared life experiences, traits and characteristics, be it gender, sexual-orientation, or lifestyle to discuss matters that are important to them. ERGs can also be great for team-building.
Create goals and track the progress
With there being 39 different diversity types, if not more, to be aware of it can be difficult to know where to start. Seeing this number may very well feel overwhelming, but the key is to take it one thing at a time. PR agencies should create clear, realistic goals that they want to achieve within their organisation. It can be useful to put a team together that will develop a strategy for how these goals will be achieved, whilst setting timelines for each goal and tracking the progress.
Diversity and inclusion are critical for PR firms, as they help to better reflect the communities they serve. In order to create a truly diverse and inclusive workplace, PR professionals need to be proactive in their outreach. By reaching out to different communities and organisations, creating an environment that welcomes employees of all backgrounds, and being aware of the unconscious biases we all carry, PR teams can build a more equitable work culture.
If you’re looking for more information on how to create a diverse and inclusive workplace in PR or want help implementing these strategies in your own organisation, contact us here.