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Looking at diversity through the PRCA PR and Communications Census 2018

The PRCA’s PR and Communications Census has recently been launched at events across the UK.

The census data was gathered via an online survey generated by research company Norstat, which generated 1687 responses from PR and Communications practitioners.

Here’s a quick review of some of the key points from the census that are worth highlighting, with a particular focus on the diversity of the industry.

A growing industry

Firstly, it’s worth noting that the PR and communications industry has a value of £13.8 billion, which is an increase of seven per cent since 2016, when it was worth £12.9 billion.

The number of employees in the industry has grown too, with a total of 86,000 employees in 2018 compared with 83,000 employees in 2016.

The growth in the total value for the industry and the number of employees shows that ours is an expanding industry.

This is positive and reassuring for individual practitioners, agencies and in-house teams as it shows there are plenty of opportunities for them in an industry growing healthily.

Diversity is increasing very slowly

The majority of PR and communications practitioners are women, who make up 66 per cent of all practitioners. This figure has risen slightly, up two per cent from 2016.

And it seems that PR and communications still favours young people at present, with the average age of the PR and communications practitioner in 2018 being 29, up from 28 in 2016.

The ethnic origin of the industry is still predominantly White British (78%). However, this figure is five per cent lower than in 2016, which shows the industry is slowly becoming more diverse.

As is to be expected, the PR and communications industry is more diverse in regions that contain more diverse populations.

For example, in London non-White British practitioners make up 29 per cent of the total number, whilst in the East Midlands that figure stands at 27 per cent.

For the first time since the PRCA began recording the industry’s diversity, the prevalence of White British practitioners is lower than the national average (80.5 per cent).

This is some long-awaited good news for those campaigning for more opportunities for black and ethnic minority practitioners in our industry.

That said, there’s still a lot of anecdotal evidence that shows that black and ethnic minority practitioners are often overlooked for jobs and promotions because of the colour of their skin.

We need to keep working hard as an industry to drive more positive change in this area. But organisations like the Taylor Bennett Foundation, and more recently BME PR Pros, are making a real difference and helping more black and ethnic minority practitioners to enter PR and communications and thrive in the industry.

86 per cent of PR and communications practitioners describe themselves as heterosexual, five per cent describe themselves as gay, whilst two per cent describe themselves as bisexual. Eight per cent of practitioners preferred not to disclose their sexuality. These figures are nearly identical to those from 2013.

Just four per cent of practitioners disclosed that they have a disability. This is two per cent increase from 2016, which is a good sign – a small positive change is better than no change.

However, when you consider that somewhere between 15 to 20 per cent of the UK population have a disability (depending on the source of data you look at), people with disabilities are still acutely under-represented in PR and Communications.

So by and large the situation remains the same: PR and Communications is slowly changing for the better but must do more to at attract and retain diverse talent.

The gender pay gap is moving in the wrong direction

There remains a substantial gender pay gap between male and female PR and communications practitioners.

Worryingly, the gender pay gap in the PR and communications industry has grown over the last two years from 17.8 per cent in 2016 to 21 per cent in 2018.

Our gender pay gap is also greater than the UK gender pay gap for all types of workplace, which is 18.4 per cent.

This means than on average women earn £11,364 less than men, £42,588 compared to £53,952.

Even more worrying, the gender pay gap in agencies is 23.5 per cent! The gap is greatest at the Managing Director and Chairmen level: a whopping 27 per cent.

But it’s not all bad news as there has been a seven per cent increase in the number of female Managing Directors since 2016. This is good evidence of the glass ceiling being broken in agency-land.

At 15.6 per cent the gender pay gap for in-house teams is an encouraging five and a half per cent lower than the industry average. Women outnumber men in every type of in-house role other than Directors, which reflects the gender composition of the wider industry.

And over 39 per cent of in-house practitioners have children or other dependents.

This suggest that in-house working is more flexible and better suited to women who have children or dependents, and makes it easier for women to reach senior roles.

However, ultimately our gender pay gap figures fly in the face of the wider trend for more public scrutiny in the UK for employers to deal with their gender pay gaps.

It’s an area where much more work must be done to achieve a fairer industry that equally rewards women and men, whilst also offering them equal opportunities to progress in their careers all the way to the top.

Read the PRCA Diversity and Inclusion Guidelines

Earlier this year the PRCA published its PRCA Diversity and Inclusion Guidelines, which look at the state of diversity in the industry and offer practical tips for how you can improve the diversity of your team.

If you want to attract the best talent, regardless of who they are, download the guidelines now and start making your organisation and your PR and Communications team truly diverse and inclusive.