CIPR CEO speaks at launch of Ignite’s Diversity Manifesto

Last night, CIPR CEO Jane Wilson spoke at the launch of Ignite’s ‘Manifesto for Change: Igniting the case for diversity and inclusion in public relations’. Ignite is the diversity in public relations networking group.

Jane delivered the following statement at the manifesto launch:

Jane Wilson, CIPR CEO
I’d like to congratulate Bieneosa and her team for producing an impressive proposal for change. The Ignite network has done more than most in leading the dialogue on diversity and inclusion. Investing in staff potential, taking a competence based approach to recruitment, tracking progression, challenging suppliers, ending unpaid internships – and embracing change – all of these and more must be addressed. What does success look like? Success means changing the outward face of public relations. Success is the day where a BME consultancy carrying out work for a BME client isn’t a news story. The story is a PR consultancy delivering a successful strategic communications plan for their clients. This is a long term aspiration – but is an ambition that we must strive towards. In the CIPR’s strategic plan we have committed ourselves to tackling current behaviours and perceptions under the direction of our Diversity Working Group. If success starts by accepting difference and embracing change then we need to continue to change attitudes, behaviours and perceptions – this is a cultural shift which we can only attain through collective action. 2012 has already seen some progress. The PRCA’s Access Commission’s report is comprehensive in its recommendations for removing barriers of entry to the profession. They have also taken a strong stance on the issue of internships and done a huge amount to highlight this issue. In March the CIPR published our Internship and Work Placement Toolkit. The toolkit also advocates an end to unpaid internships, requires that employers open up work placements to the widest pool of talent available whilst making sure that interns have full and equal access to learning and development opportunities. Internships help open up the profession to students and graduates. Our profession offers an exciting and challenging career in an environment which combines stimulating work with the need to be creative, flexible and focused. By opening up our doors to those who show the real potential, and ensuring that the financial rewards make them accessible to all, I hope that many more of the most talented young people will choose to pursue a career in public relations. It is clear to me that on this issue the profession has stood together to achieve real results on an issue fundamental to our future development. We need to do the same in other areas. We should be doing more to address gender imbalance. Many women are leading the profession, but there are not enough. The simple truth is that the number of women in senior positions in the PR profession remains low. Look at the figures. 60% of our membership is made up of women. There are on average 20% more women than men in executive officer and junior manager roles. But in senior manager, partner and director roles we see 20% more men. Earlier this month I sat on a round table panel of industry leaders – we discussed the challenges working parents face and the issues surrounding the return to work following maternity leave and breaks to raise young children. We concluded at this first session that there is a growing demand for honest dialogue and realistic expectations on both sides from the outset. In May we hope to publish ‘Getting the Balance Right’ – a report produced in association with Hanson Search – this report will contain key best practice recommendations for all communications employers – I look forward to sharing this with you. Another issue the CIPR will lead on is tackling the root cause of under-representation – the visibility of PR in under-represented communities – imperative in securing our future. We must gain greater understanding of this fundamental issue and develop a collective line of attack to change the perceptions and behaviours we know exist. I am also realistic. There is more that we need to do. We must, as a priority, establish recruitment criteria for employment based on ability and potential – competence-based recruitment is a big step. But we also know that this is a long road, and diversity and inclusion won’t happen overnight. I believe our profession has the knowledge and resources to provide effective and informed recommendations to drive this debate forward. 2012 is the year that the public relations profession can secure a future where we can open up minds to new ways of thinking, doing – and achieving. Thank you again to Bieneosa and the Ignite committee for inviting me to speak tonight. I look forward to working closely with you, John and other industry leaders in continuing the work we’ve only just started.
Jane Wilson, CIPR CEO
Notes to editors

Notes to editors

About the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR)Founded in 1948, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) is the Royal Chartered professional body for public relations practitioners in the UK and overseas. The CIPR is the largest membership organisation for PR practitioners outside of North America. By size of turnover and number of individually registered members, we are the leading representative body for the PR profession and industry in Europe.

The CIPR advances professionalism in public relations by making its members accountable to their employers and the public through a code of conduct and searchable public register, setting standards through training, qualifications, awards and the production of best practice and skills guidance, facilitating Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and awarding Chartered Public Relations Practitioner status (Chart.PR).

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