The Diversity Action Alliance a is consortium of communications organizations dedicated to increasing diversity in public relations. Both its leaders and the organizations that have pledged to support the group’s efforts are impressive. However, as a measurement geek, I find the most exciting effort that the DAA has undertaken is their reporting tool.
Created by the Institute for PR (IPR), it’s an online tool that organizations can use to report their current state of diversity. Initial data from this reporting tool has been used as a benchmark to chart improvement going forward. Tina McCorkindale and her team at the IPR have analyzed that data from more than a hundred different organizations.
PR needs more diversity
You can read the full report here. The message it delivers is that the world of PR and communications has a lot of work to do before it can brag about its diversity efforts. We are, overall as an industry, coming late to the game. Only 24% of reporting organizations said they had a Chief Diversity Officer, compared to more than half of companies nationwide.
Not surprisingly, as many benchmarks do, it paints a pretty gloomy picture of the current state of our profession. In essence we are overwhelming white and what diversity exists is far from levers of power:
But it gets worse. While 78% white isn’t as bad as one might have expected, digging into the data shows a much more challenging landscape. The C-suites in our industry are 93% white, and at the executive level it’s 87% white. And, the category with the highest percentage of diversity is, you guessed it, admins, at 56% white. What was most disappointing is three out of four entry level positions are still all white:
Analyzed by type of organization, the data reinforces a depressing stereotype. Non-profit organizations are by far the most diverse (67% white), while professional services firms (that typically pay much higher salaries) are still 82% white:
Tina and her crew also looked at who is most likely to get promoted in the field of communications. And again, if you want to get promoted, good luck if you’re not white. This is the industry-wide data for promoted employees in 2019. We can only hope that number has improved since then:
There was a little bit of good news in this PR industry diversity data: promotions were more likely at the top and bottom of the corporate ladder. At the C-Suite level, non-white professions had a one-three chance of being promoted, and for admins the chance were even better, at 43%. ∞