Thursday, 8 July 2010

Actually Doing Something On Diversity.....

I spent most of yesterday at the Ignite conference on diversity, supported and hosted by Edelman.

I'm not a great conference-goer it must be said. All too often, they're little more than talking shops to puff up the vanity of organisers and speakers alike. But I think yesterday was different. PRCA Board member and Edelman CEO Robert Phillips set the tone when he said that his aim was action not words. I couldn't agree more.

Robert spelt out precisely what Edelman will do to drive diversity, and in the same manner, I set out what the PRCA will do. We will do this:

*Establish a framework for paid internships, targeted at hard-to-reach groups
*Formalise our work with universities, again targeted to reach students who ordinarily wouldn't consider a career in PR
*Provide the first credible, robust statistics on the size and composition of the PR industry, to be refreshed every two years

All of this should help to ease access into the industry, and to allow us to track its composition as it moves forward. Much of this we will do with partners -undertaking the PR Census with PR Week for example.

But the most important thing that we will do is to work with other willing bodies to create robust evidence of the business case for diversity. That case is the missing link.

I am thoroughly tired of hearing speeches that claim there is a clear business case for diversity, but then signally fail to provide any evidence of that case. A sense of 'we should do this thing' will take the industry only so far -and it will do so very slowly. The most powerful driver for action is the one that includes Pound signs. That is why clear, financial measures of the business benefit derived from workforce diversity are absolutely essential if we are to widen access to the profession, so that it can benefit from all of the talent that exists.

A final comment. Diversity isn't just about ethnicity. It's about so much more than that. It's about age, about disability, about -dare we say the word- class. We pigeon hole and marginalise the debate when we limit it to being a question of colour alone. That's a mistake the PRCA will not make.

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