Public Relations Struggling with Inequality in the U.K.
Recently, social equality has dominated the media, especially regarding representation, equal pay, and other forms of discrimination in the working world. Women and minorities do not get the same opportunities as other workers, and there is often a large pay gap between men and women.
As a field dominated by women, PR should not have issues with unequal pay between men and women, but the reverse is true. The field also poorly represents the population in terms of age and race.
A recent study in the U.K. showed that though 64 percent of PR workers are female, men still make, on average, up to £11,698 more than their female counterparts. This is almost twice as much as the general pay gap in the U.K., averaging around £5,732. The fact that this happens in a female-dominated field makes the statistics even more disappointing.
While there are no unequal pay statistics associated with public relations, researchers note than in the U.K., a whopping 91 percent of PR workers are white. Studies also note that few foreigners or expats work in this profession in the U.K., as 89 percent of PR experts are also British.
To add to this, an overwhelming number of PR workers are in their 20s. The average age of a worker in this field is just 28 years old. Probably because public relations has become digital, which is best understood by millennials. These workers already employ social media and other digital forms of communication for personal use making them natural experts.
So, workers who must work with brands do not accurately represent the population they market to. While there are many ways to work around this, and to ensure content is relevant to the demographics targeted, there is no better way of knowing for sure than having a diverse workforce.
Glamour Magazine’s Unglamorous Example. One recent catastrophic consequence of this occurred when the U.K.-based Glamour Magazine took the opportunity to ride the Beyoncé bandwagon, which ultimately ended in embarrassment. The company took the “good hair” line from Beyoncé’s song and ran with it. They then posted two pictures of white women with what they called, not just good hair, but great hair.
The problem is “good hair” has a different cultural meaning in Black communities around the world, than the phrase does in regular circulation. Their use of the phrase offended and enraged many Black women in the U.K. and America, due to the heavy racial, historical, and political meaning going all the way back to slavery.
Many questioned why Glamour did not have a more diverse team onboard and pointed out that had a woman of color been in the office, that article would have been radically different. In the end, Glamour not only issued an apology for the article but deleted it from their website.
This and other countless examples show that even the best experts can benefit from diversity, and having a team reflecting the audience brands want. Public relations companies should hire a more diverse workforce, and pay workers equally irrespective of gender, race, or age.