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How Can the Public Relations Industry Become More Diverse?

By: Sierra Worden 

There is a serious problem with representation in the public relations industry. The lack of diversity in higher level positions such as CCOs, agency CEOs and executives is astonishing. If the world around us is constantly changing and becoming more accepting, then why does it seem as though the public relations industry is so far behind? The public relations industry should be at the forefront of this change. What steps need to be taken in order for this to occur? Brandon Thomas, Vice President and Head of DE&I at PAN Communications, decided to shed light on what he feels is preventing the public relations industry from being more diverse. 

Q: What do you feel the challenges are for diversity in public relations?

"Building diversity in public relations is a new, intentional journey for many companies and organizations. One of the biggest challenges is undoing systems, processes and operations that have not elevated and/or served all employees, such as members of the BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and disability communities. In 2020, many companies became acutely aware that the need for recruiting and retaining more candidates should be a top business priority."

 Graph that shows the diversity in top public relations jobs

Public relations demographics and statistics in the U.S. 

Q: What is the greatest opportunity for people of color in public relations

"I’m encouraged and excited for BIPOC individuals to lean into their uniqueness as an opportunity to add value in predominantly white spaces. Diversity of thought and perspective in PR is more important than ever, and the willingness from so many within the industry to commit to finding new ways to create more diverse workplaces has been tremendous."

Graph that shows the diversity in top public relations jobs

Public relations demographics and statistics in the U.S. 

Q: What is the biggest barrier for people of color in the industry?

"While it might sound easier said than done, now is the time that people of color should feel empowered to authenticity show up to the workplace as their full self. Our differences are what make professional environments thrive and knowing that there's value in the thinking you bring to work environments is not only powerful, but it also matters."