December 8, 2022

Karolyn Andrews
We need to talk about diversity in the marketing & PR industry

There is a lack of diversity in the marketing and PR industry. Fact.

The numbers don’t lie. According to the Office for National Statistics, just 5.4% of employees in our industry are non-white compared to 12.7% of the general population. And research reveals that a concerning 39% of agencies don’t employ anyone from underrepresented groups.

To be clear, we aren’t setting Transform up as a role model for diversity. Being based in a very beautiful but rural part of the South West comes with its recruitment challenges. But we are taking steps to encourage those from underrepresented groups into the industry. Led by members of the team who are hugely committed to addressing this issue. In fact, our very own Content Writer, Izzy Dignum, is a member of the CIPR South West committee with a personal interest in D&I.

Equally, diversity in marketing and PR isn’t a problem that’s going to be solved overnight. As we work towards building more diverse organisations and teams, there are other steps the marketing profession can – and should – be taking. To make sure what we do is inclusive and representative of the populations we serve.

So, what’s the solution to increase diversity in marketing?

We don’t have all the answers and every organisation is different. However, in a recent lunch and learn, Izzy shared her thoughts (and she’s got a lot of them!) in a presentation, ‘What’s the deal with D&I?’. We have started to roll out some of her suggestions, with more in plan for the future:

1. Partner with local schools and colleges

Members of the Transform Comms and Transform Digital team have recently delivered presentations and attended careers fairs at local schools and colleges. Dan O’Connor (Director), Haris Alexandrou (Digital Account Manager) and Ellen Ridsdale (Senior Account Manager) took the opportunity to talk to students about the different opportunities available in the industry.

2. Support apprenticeship schemes

Apprenticeships are an important route into work, allowing individuals to gain experience and training while being paid a wage. They are particularly valuable for those who don’t want, or do not have the funds, to pursue a more traditional academic path. We’re delighted that a new digital marketing apprentice, Ed Pitman, recently joined the Transform team. And we’re already in conversations to recruit our next apprentice.

3. Get involved with local networks and community initiatives

We attend and participate in a wide variety of events and networks as part of our long-term recruitment strategy. It’s a way of meeting and attracting diverse talent and talking about the different marketing and PR roles available across the Transform Group. Whether it’s women’s networks, community breakfasts, media events or volunteering days.

We’re content marketing experts, so we’re also playing to our strengths and working on content that shares the different routes available into a marketing career. With the aim of highlighting the multitude of different options across content marketing, digital marketing, creative design and more.

These initiatives also aim to address the issue of equality, as well as diversity. By working to ensure that every individual has equal opportunities to learn about potential careers in the marketing and PR industry. And regardless of our background and circumstances, we all have the same opportunity to apply our talents to a career in marketing, if that is what we choose to do.  

Why is diversity in marketing important?

We believe that marketing and PR is fundamentally about telling stories. But if the industry is predominantly white, neurotypical and middle class then whose stories are being told?

It’s not only the right thing to do. There are also business benefits to involving a diversity of individuals in your marketing efforts. The world is changing – fast. There’s a huge rise in international mobility and our society is becoming more multi-cultural and multi-ethnic. Marketing must keep pace with this change.

A sense of belonging is increasingly important to people in our chaotic world. Your marketing can offer this by demonstrating a genuine understanding of the groups you serve. Of course, if you’re not part of the intended audience you can still work effectively on a campaign. But it’s always important to bring in a wide range of views and opinions when developing any marketing strategy or plan. Whether that’s internally or including the voice of customers who represent the people you serve.

Bring in diverse views

The need for diverse views is why we always take the time to find out about not just our clients, but also our clients’ clients. Their pain points, their needs and their opinions. It’s about so much more than using representative images.

Obviously, it’s important for your audience to see themselves – and a diverse representation of others – in your marketing materials. But it takes more than a single image. For us, it’s about doing our research and really getting to know our clients and their customers. Whether that’s through deep dive workshops, face-to-face interviews, video calls or surveys. So we can reflect this in everything we do, from tone of voice and inclusive content to branding, accessible design and website navigation.

Perhaps most importantly, we also hold ourselves and our team mates accountable. Regularly checking our biases, having conversations and asking questions around these important issues. Educating and informing ourselves and each other.

Here's a blog by our Graphic Designer George, who helps keep the team at Transform educated and informed:

In marketing, it's never been more important to make the up-front investment and take the time to properly understand the point of view of the people you serve. We consistently see that when you really know your clients and customers, the rewards are high. Impactful campaigns that lead to tangible results – and long-lasting customer loyalty.

Create an inclusive culture

Diversity is important but there’s a reason it’s D and I. As well as attracting more diverse talent into the marketing and PR industry, it’s also vital to create inclusive cultures that make everyone feel welcome and psychologically safe.

We work with the brilliant team of talent management experts and occupational psychologists at Talogy. They’ve done research around inclusive cultures and the steps needed to create them. This research shows that the following all help to facilitate a more inclusive culture:

• Being empathetic.

• Building proactive relationships with others.

• Being learning orientated.

• Being willing to question assumptions.

• Being flexible.

• Remaining calm in uncomfortable situations.

It’s a helpful and very actionable guide to steps we can all take to be more inclusive.

Lots to do

There’s a lot of work to do to improve equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the marketing and PR industry. And in our own organisation, where it starts with taking steps to inform people about career opportunities and hiring a more diverse team, and then ensuring our culture continues to be welcoming and inclusive for all.

At Transform, we look forward to recruiting – and benefiting from – more diverse talent. Do get in touch if you’re interested in joining the team. In the meantime, we will continue to ensure we bring in a diverse range of views and opinions into the client work we do.

Download Pdf