Diversity in the UK and PR Workplace

Public relations is practiced globally, but this section will focus solely on diversity in the United Kingdom (UK) because of a 2020 report titled “Race  in PR: BAME lived experiences in the UK PR industry.” The UK consists of England, Wales, and two other countries. The UK uses the acronym BAME -- Blacks, Asian, and Minority Ethnic -- to classify ethnic groups who are not white.

In England and Wales, the white ethnic group is 86 percent, while the BAME population stands at 14 percent, according to the 2011 UK Census, the latest available updated in 2019. In London, however, BAMEs made up 40.2 percent of the population.

The London, England-based Chartered Institute of Public Relations, the largest group for public relations practitioners in the UK and overseas, acknowledges that the profession has a diversity problem.

In its Race in PR report (2020), CIPR found that the number of BAMEs has declined from 11 percent in 2015 to 8 percent in 2019. Similarly, CIPRs State of the Profession Report 2019 found that the public relations industry is becoming less diverse in terms of ethnicity and sexuality. Also, women still lag in leadership roles and pay.

Regarding ethnicity, 92 percent identified as white, an increase of over 86% in 2018, and 90% in 2017, CIPR explained. With sexuality, 89 percent identified as heterosexual, an increase of 4% from the previous year.

Furthermore, women made up 67 percent of the profession, but men held 44 percent of executive roles, the CIPR report states. However, the report found that the gender pay gap decreased from the previous two years.

Finally, in listing the top challenges facing the public relations industry, “lack of diversity amongst PR professionals” ranked No. 9 out of 11, according to CIPR.

“The PR industry agrees that diversity is important in attracting the best talent, to bring fresh thinking, creativity and insights, but our actions speak louder than our words,” Avril Lee MCIPR, CIPR Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Network, writes in the 2019 report. “Without those inside changing the status quo, those outside will remain locked out and our profession will be poorer for it.”

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