It has been five weeks since the launch of Ignite’s Manifesto for Change; a perfect time to reflect on what I consider to be a milestone for Ignite and, more significantly, for the PR industry.
The manifesto is a culmination of the work that Ignite has been undertaking since 2009 to raise awareness of the benefits of cultural diversity in the PR industry. I also describe the manifesto as a labour of love, simply because we could see from the outset how it would add value to the industry.
With a body of evidence already supporting the need for the industry to act on its diversity deficit, including the results of the PRCA/PR Week Census, the time was right for us to move the diversity debate forward once again; this time focusing on mobilising agency heads and HR teams. With a number of best practice guides and tools already available in relation to enhancing diversity within organisations, our aim was not to reinvent the wheel. However, there was a gap in the market for a tailored resource for the PR industry. Our solution was to produce a guide that offers employers practical advice on improving diversity in their organisations, from getting the recruitment process right and creating an inclusive working environment, through to setting measurable objectives to track progress on this journey.
In the weeks following the launch of the manifesto, I have seen evidence of greater interest in how the industry can move the diversity agenda forward, from debate to action. Whilst the PRCA and the CIPR have been playing their part to move the agenda forward too, with a more focused and committed approach to diversity than previous efforts, I think more could be achieved if both organisations worked collaboratively and united as one voice on this issue.
I am conscious that our industry bodies are just one part of the mobilisation process and there is only so much they can do; hence the manifesto being targeted at agency heads and HR teams. These are the people who have the power to change things on the ground. We have received excellent feedback about the manifesto which is great. However, I would gladly trade the plaudits for agencies that are serious about implementing the key points outlined in the manifesto.
There are already agencies, like Edelman, who are ahead of the curve and doing some great work around diversity. It is these kinds of agencies that get the bigger picture, that embrace change and will have a leading edge as the needs of clients, both at home and abroad, become more global and move away from ‘traditional’ frames of reference.
We need more agencies to grab the bull by the horns and embrace change. That is when I believe the PR industry will be at the tipping point; the culmination of everything that has gone before, including our manifesto, and when significant change will take place. Until then, Ignite will continue to help build a critical mass through our work which aims to educate, engage and mobilise change.
Bieneosa Ebite, Chairperson, Ignite