You may have come across specially-abled stewards at KFC or gone through some of the inspiring headlines in newspapers and social media about an individual representing the LGBT community appointed as the principal of a college in West Bengal, India a couple of years back. Reputed companies like Accenture, IBM, and Infosys sometimes get featured for hiring human resources on wheelchair or open-heartedly accommodating employees with specific disabilities. While India goes gaga over sporadic examples of a diversified and inclusive workforce across the employment sector, it is hard to find a similar culture in India’s Public Relations (PR) industry.
Although ideally, the PR industry should be more open to all identities as they build up the edifice of mass communication and connecting with people of all kinds, colours, races, genders, abilities and more, unfortunately, the concept of openness is not that impressive in the country. Encountering with a PR professional belonging to the third gender or someone who has a hearing disability or cannot speak is still a far-fetched dream. Interestingly, not just India, the landscape of a diversified and inclusive eco-structure is not much different in the US or Europe as well. According to a report, African Americans and Hispanic Americans constitute only 10% of all PR professionals. Thus, the global PR industry, as well as that in India, has a long way to go in terms of diversification and inclusion, although a remarkable shift is happening in the field of including female workforce over the last decade.
Unlike earlier days, diversification and inclusion are no more all about including women in the workforce. With all the noise around feminism and women empowerment in the last couple of years, the PR industry along with the other sectors have voluminously grown in terms of including women. In fact, for India, women have been the face of the Public Relations Industry. According to the top female PR professionals in the country with 15 to 25 years of experience in the field including Shefali Khanna, partner and Chief Marketing Officer at Astrum – Reputation Advisory, Shravani Dang, Group Vice President, Corporate Communications at Avantha Group, Vasundhara Mudgil, Head of Communications at Spotify, India, Stuti Jalan, Founder and Managing Director of Crosshairs and more, PR is an inherent skill among women as women are better multitaskers, more creative and understanding that make up the three most vital pillars of PR. The PR industry may no more be gender specific or biased, but it is lagging much behind in terms of embracing a diversified and inclusive intellectual capital structure compared to the corporates.
Experts say that a diversified and inclusive work culture enhances the accessibility of Public relations (PR). It creates an open and credible workplace which is must for a profession representing the views of multiple stakeholders. In case you are into this profession, always remember your client will choose you based on how open you are in expanding your client tile by promoting diverse talent. Also, the more inclusive you are, the better you will be able to provide multiple viewpoints during a crisis that your client faces and thereby save your client’s reputation. Furthermore, India is a multicultural and pluralistic nation and you ought to be inclusive and diversified if you want to understand your customers better. Similarly, your customers will have deeper trust on you if you are a PR brand that can realise their needs and expectations from an array of backgrounds including social, political, economic and cultural topographies. This will definitely boost your client connections and help you provide insights into trends.
Enough has been spoken about why it is crucial for the PR industry to be diversified an inclusive. However, not many talks about how that can be done. It is not rocket science, say experts. All you need to do is tweak your hiring policies and make some cool administrative changes. These may include inclusion of paid period leaves for women employees, pooling in women from underprivileged, low income backgrounds, hiring those who are wheelchair bound or may have to use a hearing aid to hear and sign languages to interact, making the workplace design friendly for the specially-abled and driving in those from the LGBT community based on their talent and skills and not on their gender preferences.
Being a PR is not that easy and being a diversified and inclusive PR is even tougher. However, once you can brace up with the openness, your public relations skill will touch the sky and bring about a dynamic makeover in the existing PR industry. Let’s hope for the day when India will produce the best of PR professionals based on their talents to connect, skills to innovate and not based on their gender, colour, caste, religion, ability and so on.
Sources : http://www.prmoment.in/category/pr-insight/the-power-of-women-in-indian-pr
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