I had the honour of being a Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) judge for the Excellence Awards, looking at entries in the Inclusive Communications Campaign category.
The Excellence Awards, which have been established for 30 years, recognise the outstanding achievements of individuals, in-house teams and agencies from across all sectors of the public relations profession. This was the first time the CIPR (and the UK PR industry) has chosen to recognise campaigns or projects that demonstrate how diverse groups and audiences are factored into the design and delivery of messaging, visual content and choice of channels.
The new award category is a nudge in the right direction for an industry that has been snail-like in its approach to tackling the lack of diversity in its workforce, which in turn has an impact on its output. If we look at ethnic diversity, the most recent PR Week/ PRCA Census (2013) showed that only 6% of people working in the industry are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds (BME). This bears no resemblance to the demographic profile of the UK where the last national census (2011) revealed that 14% of the population is from a BME background. There is a body of research which shows that a homogenous workforce limits creativity and innovation, the ability to understand different perspectives and to spot upcoming trends; all important elements of professional public relations practice.
In a competitive industry that places high value on external recognition, by showcasing and rewarding agencies and in-house teams that are adopting an inclusive way of thinking, the CIPR is encouraging others to replicate the success of their peers. This nudge is part of a bigger shift in mindset and behaviour, which I have written about previously, that is required if the PR industry is to break free from its demographic bubble, and be secure in its long-term ability to engage effectively with heterogeneous audiences both at home and abroad.
You can read about the winner of the Inclusive Communications Campaign category here.