PR must assume a mature approach to diversity and inclusion says CIPR DWG

A new research report, published today by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ Diversity Working Group (CIPR DWG) marking its 5th anniversary, is calling on businesses in public relations to take greater ownership of the diversity agenda, embed a more mature approach to deliver genuine inclusive leadership, and ensure inclusive communications is factored in to the delivery of all public relations campaigns.

This call-to-action is prompted by the findings of a qualitative research study of more than 30 PR professionals, from a range of disciplines and backgrounds, which recorded personal experiences and perceptions across a range of ‘diversity issues’ including ethnicity, sexuality, disability, gender equality and age equality.

The findings reveal:

  • “Disability in PR is a dirty secret” often overlooked by PR businesses and the industry’s representative bodies
  • Evidence of active discrimination of ethnic minorities in recruitment – and general slow progress on the issue down to a lack of impetus for change
  • “PR’s obsession with youth” and pursuit of digital natives has resulted in older professionals being made to feel “out of touch”
  • A complacent approach to sexuality has led to non-heterosexual professionals feeling uncomfortable about being themselves in certain sectors
  • On gender equality – a feeling of injustice amongst women starting families that has been amplified by inflexible working cultures, created by an imbalance of men in leadership positions, resulting in a gender pay gap of £12,591 (Note: as recorded in CIPR State of the Profession 2015)

The research was conducted both through face-to-face roundtables hosted in London and Leeds, and through the use of innovative mobile research platform Kiosk, which prompted participants to record and share video feedback on a range of issues via their smartphones.

In addition to presenting the research findings, the report also contains four separate pieces of reflective thought leadership, issued as a challenge for public relations professionals to take a lead on delivering diversity and inclusion in their own organisations. These are titled:

  • ‘Embrace diversity or fail’
  • ‘Is your organsation future proof?’
  • ‘The future challenge’
  • ‘What can you do?’
Catherine Grinyer MCIPR, Chair of the CIPR Diversity Working Group
PR is a vital business function. If we get diversity and inclusion right within our industry it will put us ahead of our colleagues and clients but, at the moment, we are lagging behind.

We should be drawing on a range of diverse talent and communicating with diverse audiences, but we are not. If we don’t understand how to embed inclusion and become skilled at delivering more inclusive campaigns, then we are failing at our job.

I’d encourage practitioners from all backgrounds, but particularly our industry leaders, to read the research findings and case studies, watch the videos, and listen to what is being said; the case for change is compelling. Use the checklist to see how your organisation shapes up and put diversity and inclusion at the top of your strategic priorities for 2016.
Catherine Grinyer MCIPR, Chair of the CIPR Diversity Working Group

The report and further video content from Kiosk HQ can be accessed via the CIPR website at

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).