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Diversity in Public Relations

Imagine that there was a public crisis in Chinatown, New York City, New York. Who would be the best person to communicate what the issue was or how to stay safe during the crisis? Research has stated that people would prefer to hear their news and information from people that are similar to themselves.

According to a 2018 Harvard Business Review of the federal labor statistics, this is the breakdown of diversity in Public Relations; 87.9 percent Caucasian, 8.3 percent African American, 5.7 percent Hispanic, and 2.6 percent Asian American. That means that there is a major lack of diversity in the Public Relations industry. The analysis also reported that women makeup 70 percent of the industry but represent only 30 percent of agency executives.

How do we get the PR industry to become more diverse? That is a question that researchers are trying to answer. Students oftentimes are not aware that public relations are an option as an area of study because more PR work is done behind the scenes and isn’t talked about much. A professor at DePaul, Ron Culp, Ph. D, has started a program at the Midtown Center for Boys in Chicago. Dr. Culp aims to introduce PR to students in high school in those underrepresented ethnicities.

Research shows that people hire and associate with people who are more like themselves. To break the hiring habits of those in charge of hiring, diversity training should be implemented. Inclusion and retention are important parts of a company and those aspects should be included in that training. To effectively hire a diverse group of people, one must be self-aware in hiring so that others unlike themselves have the opportunity to grow. Individuals who are executives should look out for those employees who may face bigger biases and champion for them to move up the ladder in their companies.

Diversity all starts with research and conversations. I am more than willing to do my part to make PR more diverse. Once I graduate I plan on talking to as many students of diverse backgrounds about Public Relations to hopefully pique their interest in the industry.

2018 Harvard Business Review

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