Diversity 2.1: In The Year 2020 (An update)

A year ago, I wrote a blog on the continuing drive to increase the diversity of practitioners in PR.


As I wrote at the time, the push “was no longer about getting fresh talent into the industry but making greater efforts on the issues of Recruitment / Retention / Promotion.”


I concluded that as various initiatives had chosen 2020 as a key date in this ongoing campaign that, I argued, there would be greater results if there was a more concerted and I unified effort.


Two events over the last couple of weeks have spurred me on to have another look at my blog.


The BBC released details of its salary grades and the Government Communication Service released its second Diversity and Inclusion strategy.


The fallout of the BBC disclosure has been well covered and has given them an opportunity to repeat its pledge that that women will make up half of its workforce on-screen, on-air and in leadership roles by 2020.


In addition, the broadcaster wants 15 per cent of its workforce to be drawn from BAME backgrounds for staff and leadership roles.


When the GCS released its 2016/17 strategy, I contacted them for details of the monitoring and enforcement of the strategy in order to write a follow-up on their work.


I did not receive a reply but their newly published strategy at nearly five times the length goes into greater detail re their approach:


This 2017/18 strategy commits the Government Communication Service to recruit, promote, train and support a diverse and inclusive profession and outlines what that means to us in practice.”

If the 2016/17 strategy talked about initial steps, the latest strategy provides more information on what the GCS is doing/planning to do in order to improve recruitment of BAME candidates and those from poorer socio-economic backgrounds.


One key development is a pledge by Chris Skidmore, Minister for the Constitution, cabinet office, to monitor each quarter the performance of the profession against the strategy as part of his role as Chair of the GCS Ministerial board.


Another is the capturing of diversity data and monitoring progress for the communications profession across government through the GCS Annual Skills Survey.


Many of the other initiatives presented in the report will by their very nature need to have time to be embedded and to yield positive results (as ecg hoed in the CIPR’s own State of the Profession survey). Especially as they cover the talent pipeline, leadership, culture change and outreach programmes.


Summary of Office for National Statistics (ONS)Civil Service Statistics

The table below indicates the diversity declarations for Civil Servants who declared their profession in communications.*


2015-16 2016-17
Communications ProfessionCommunications and marketing profession Civil Service Communications Profession  Civil Service
Gender Male 43% 45.9% 42% 46%
Female 57% 54.1% 58% 54%
Ethnicity White 88% 89.4% 88% 89%
BAME 12% 10.6% 12% 11%
Disability Declared DisabilityStatus 7% 8.9% 8% 9%
No Declared DisabilityStatus 93% 91.1% 92% 91%


*These figures are based on 3,405 survey responses.



Although Disability is recognised as an area where PR can do better there is no specific programme to improve representation of this group of practitioners. Similarly, there are no targets to tackle ageism among older practitioners.


It is clear that the GCS has invested time and effort into taking this initiative forward. Alongside with other initiatives and the adoption of the Taylor\Bennett foundation by the PRCA as its Charity of the Year, the drive towards greater diversity will not fade away over the coming months.


Separately, these initiatives will push back the obstacles to greater diversity but imagine what a concerted campaign by an association of initiatives could do by 2020?


I would like to think that in order to tackle this issue that all bodies and groups who have an interest in tackling the diversity and inclusion issue would believe that they have more clout and are stronger if they work together.

Cornelius Alexander

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