How do you tackle a lack of diversity in corporate affairs?
We’ve read the reports from McKinsey and Deloitte, we know that the positive relationship between a diverse executive board and business performance is supported by robust data. We’ve watched, maybe even participated in, the Black Lives Matter movement, and yet progress is slow. Painfully slow. According to the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) 2019 census, white professionals make up 89% of the communications industry – a stat unchanged from the year before.
It is hard to affect the type of systemic change in attitudes and processes that is required to create truly diverse and inclusive workplaces. And the scale of the challenge can lead to a sense of paralysis; it can seem so overwhelming that we do nothing. As an executive search firm hiring for leadership roles – positions that often sit on or report to the management committee – we see this a lot. Knowing something needs to be done but not knowing exactly what to do or how to do it, so doing nothing.
We want to change this. We want to work with employers to develop practical solutions that will lead to a more diverse and inclusive community of corporate affairs leaders. We don’t have all of the answers. But we want to listen and learn, try new things, work with others to build and shape the vibrant and diverse corporate affairs community of tomorrow.
Here’s the first stage of our plan:
Deconstruct and reengineer our research process to ensure inclusion is at its core. This will mean diverse shortlists by default.
Identify an assessment tool that can help hiring managers make decisions based on more than just a CV (in fact, we would love to get rid of CVs altogether).
Find networks and groups who are driving the diversity agenda that we can support e.g. our Head of Research, Seri Davies is on the panel for the UK Black Comms Network event this evening, discussing the experiences of African and Caribbean PR and Comms professionals in the UK PR industry.
Create mentoring, and reverse mentoring opportunities, for people in our network.
Appoint a senior adviser to help support us, and our clients, by shaping what best practice means and holding us accountable.
We would love to hear about what you do, what works, and, perhaps as importantly, what you have tried that hasn’t been successful. Please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org – I would love to hear from you.
Lauren is a Director at Birchwood Knight with responsibility for developing our approach to diversity and inclusion.