PRIA Launches Diversity And Inclusion Policy To Tackle Gender Inequity

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 15:  PRIA Conference 2016 on November 15, 2016 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Zak Kaczmarek/Getty Images)

The Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) launched the industry’s first Diversity and Inclusion policy at the PRIA National Conference, with the key priority of attracting more males to the PR and communication industry.

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The Diversity and Inclusion policy will act as a point of reference for progress, and a standard that will be used to promote the benefits of diversity and inclusion.

The policy was developed by PRIA Fellow Susan Redden Makatoa (pictured above), group managing director – corporate, Ogilvy PR, following a survey of practitioners and in consultation with industry leaders from N2N Communications, Deloitte, Destination NSW, Nous Group, The George Institute and SenateSHJ, as well as subject matter experts from The Diversity Council, the Australian Human Rights Commission and Australian Marriage Equality.

The PRIA commissioned the Online Research Unit (ORU) to conduct a survey of 500 practitioners to measure the makeup of the industry and ask about diversity and inclusion practices.

Mrs Redden Makatoa said one finding in particular was a standout.

“The profession is undergoing a generational gender shift – while numbers of men and women are even in the 44-54 age bracket, men aged under 25 represent just 18 per cent of practitioners. Overall, women make up some 76 per cent of the industry.

“PRIA is determined to address this shift to ensure better equity in our industry. The policy outlines PRIA’s commitment to:

  • Partner with educational institutions to recruit more males into communication, media and other recognised degrees;
  • Explore and accredit additional pathways into public relations and communication, eg VET courses and technical qualifications
  • Actively engage and profile male members of the industry with the aim of increasing consideration from young males.”

The policy also identified that while the industry was on par with or slightly above the general population when it comes to Indigenity, LGBTQI, and people who spoke languages other than English, there was still work to be done in making workplaces more accessible and encouraging cross generational diversity.

“As someone who has benefited enormously from flexible working arrangements, I was particularly pleased to see nearly two-thirds of practitioners are able to work in this way. There was also overwhelming support for flexible working arrangements to be made available for all staff and not just parents and carers,” Makatoa said.

PRIA National President, Jennifer Muir said that the policy was developed because it’s simply the right thing to do.

“As an industry, we advise organisations on how to engage audiences of all types. If we want our communication activities to be authentic and credible, our workforce needs to reflect the diverse Australian population,” said Muir.

“We want to encourage work environments where people from different backgrounds and personal circumstances are valued, free from prejudice, and able to work and contribute successfully.

“PRIA is committed to make this the norm in our industry – and we’ll do this through education and advocacy, unconscious bias training, highlighting best practice, and seeking out and promoting mentoring and internships.

“Commitment to diversity and inclusion leads to more engaged employees, which helps attract and retain talent, and deliver sustainable benefits to organisations. This can only benefit the PR and communication industry,” Muir said.