CIPR responds to latest Parker Review report - "change must come from the top"

Sixty-nine per cent of FTSE 250 companies have no ethnic diversity representation at board level, a new report out today shows. A progress report by The Parker Review Committee - established to review how to improve the ethnic and cultural diversity of UK boards - points to poor practices embedded within company cultures as "not actively encouraging talented minority executives and non-executives to choose roles in our businesses."

The report, whilst highlighting concerns with "familiar and traditional recruitment processes", calls on businesses to refuse to accept "the headhunters' excuse that 'the candidates just aren't there'". Instead it recommends businesses support existing staff through regular reporting on the ethnic diversity of their boards, on policies and activities to increase board diversity and on developing ethnic minority leaders and senior managers.​

These findings support research CIPR will soon publish into lived experiences of BAME practitioners in public relations. The research - due in March - finds that the main challenge in addressing the lack of diversity in the profession is not in attracting diverse talent, but in retaining that talent.

Avril Lee MCIPR, Chair of the CIPR Diversity and Inclusion Forum
The Parker Report should be a wake up call to the PR profession. It was established to ensure businesses better reflect the communities our businesses serve nationally and internationally - in line with CIPR's vision. Although progress has been made over the last three years, this progress is too slow. The review points to complacency and a lack of action - in 2020 this is simply not acceptable. 

I'm pleased the focus of the review highlights the cultural practices of businesses as a significant factor in failing to address the diversity gap at the top table. Our research comes to similar conclusions and, through the stories of practitioners, should shock the profession. The message is simple - the call to action is on every one of us but, as far as businesses are concerned - whatever their size, change must come from the top.
Avril Lee MCIPR, Chair of the CIPR Diversity and Inclusion Forum

The Parker Report does point to progress being made. In 2017, when it was fist published, 51 of the FTSE 100 companies had no ethnic representation on their boards. Today that figure has fallen to 33%.

Our 2019 State of the Profession report highlights a fall in diversity within public relations: 

  • More than nine in ten practitioners (92%) classify themselves as white – compared to 88% in 2018 and 90% in 2017.
  • More than a quarter (28%) of respondents said they had attended a fee-paying school. This is four times higher than the national UK average of 7% and a significant rise on the 16% figure reported in the 2015/16 State of the Profession report.

Download CIPR's guide - 'Recruiting for Public Relations Roles' from this page for best practice regarding the recruitment process.


About the Chartered Institute of Public Relations

Founded in 1948, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) is the world's only Royal Chartered professional body for public relations practitioners in the UK and overseas with nearly 10,000 members.

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).