Except for the gender issue, diversity is also an invisible problem of this profession. Stats indicate that 90% of the PR workforce in London is white and this is the lowest percentage in the UK (Please think about how diverse London is.) Most people choose to work in PR because it is so dynamic, interesting and everyday is different. Obviously they haven’t realised how boring the demographic structure of PR practitioners is.
Speaking of diversity, it can refer to ethnicity, gender, ability, age, sexuality, religion and so on. Since I have talked a little about gender before, this time I will focus more on ethnicity. According to Dr Lee Edwards, Manchester Business School,“PR in the UK can be characterised as white, middle-class and gendered.” So I may have two hypotheses: first, white middle-class British are more likely to choose PR as a career than other groups of people; second, the PR recruiters prefer white middle-class British. Research also shows that some employers will make assumptions about the practitioners’ skills and capabilities based on ethnicity rather than individual.
Diversity always brings some benefits.We want biodiversity, want fashion diversity, even want toast diversity because we know that every one is different and we should respect the difference and others’perspectives. Keeping diverse can be more flexible and adaptable to face a changing world. Especially for PR, people from diverse backgrounds can bring more better ideas and insights together because the individual of target audience can be different. You will never say XX campaign is only targeting white British. Then why not bringing some talents of other ethnics? On the other, if you have got some black employees or Asian stuffs, you can even build a new profile of your agency saying that you are specialised in multi-cultural, cross-cultural communication, or you know better about some certain groups of audience, which means you can expand your business and win more new clients.
As an international student, I would say I have come cross loads of barriers when I am looking for a job in the PR industry in the UK. Yes, I am not a native speaker of English, I might not be very familiar with British culture, but I’ve got passion and enthusiasm for PR, I am a good team player, I can manage time well and make things in order, I am even creative and have strong analytic thinking skill. These are the skills and abilities what a PR practitioner needs, aren’t they? All I need is an opportunity to prove myself. I hope as CIPR and PRCA said they can make some progress on this though it is difficult.
Everybody knows that women and men are different species. Men are from Mars, women are from Venus… Men are stronger, more rational, women are gentler, more emotional….Gender in sports has always been put on the agenda by scholars and researchers. However, at least, women can compete with women to show and prove themselves because there is no need to compare with men. As far as PR is concerned, the issue is more complicated.
It is said that women in PR are not easy to find their right men and get married as other women because people around them are also women. This is true to some degree. 65% are women in PR industry according to a research by Manchester Business School. Maybe that is why some people call PR a “pink collar profession”. Thanks to movies like Bridget Jones’s Diary and Sex and the City, public will take it for granted that PR is about beautiful girls in fashionable dresses going between parties. No director has ever shot a movie about how these girls sweated on the desk to write a press release or prepare for a press conference. The real picture is that women who are in majority do the most basic, entry level jobs, aren’t well paid and led by men who only account for a smaller percentage (see the statistic below). This is not only a character of this profession, but a problem that needs to be taken notice.
Trevor, our teacher, once told us there are two dimensions of PR: FF for fluffy femininity and MM for macho masculinity. I think there is no problem with it since each profession has several different aspects showing different features. The point is that why masculinity has to be on top of femininity? Some would argue that women make decisions by using their emotion so they are not good decision makers; some probably say women have to balance their work and family so they can not take too many responsibilities. All these excuses are established on the stereotype of the society, not limited to PR profession but many other professions as well.
Aldoory,L., Jiang,H., Toth,E.L., and Sha,B.L., Is It Still Just a Women’s Issue? A Study of Work-Life Balance Among
Men and Women in Public Relations. (2008)