NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The PR Council and PRWeek announced last night the winners of the fifth annual Diversity Distinction in PR Awards.
The awards, sponsored by the PR Council in association with PRWeek, honor excellence in leadership and promoting ethnic diversity and inclusion within the public relations sector.
“We’ve conducted this program for five years, and we know there is a great deal of focus among organizations in the public relations industry on attracting and retaining a diverse work force,” said Kathy Cripps, President of the PR Council. “These awards are not a solution but they are one way to recognize the changes taking place and to demonstrate ways to improve hiring and retention practices.”
“The Diversity Distinction in PR Awards are among the most important initiatives we work on,” explained Gideon Fidelzeid, managing editor at PRWeek. “The five-year partnership with the PR Council has been rewarding in that the quality and breadth of entries indicates a definite positive shift that will see the industry increasingly represent the audiences with which it communicates."
Best PR Firm Diversity Initiative: Firms with more than $25 million in revenue: Weber Shandwick: Empowering Our People And Our Business
The judges cited the firm’s programs focused on development and advancement for greater diversity at the senior level, in particular Weber Shandwick’s multicultural talent development initiative, which included offsite programs culturally tailored to black, Hispanic, and Asian employees.
As of June 30, 29.6% of 2015 VP/SVP hires were people of color, 28.1% of 2015 hires at the entry to account director levels were people of color, and a third of 2015 promotions into the VP level were people of color.
Best PR Firm Diversity Initiative: Firms Less than $25 million in annual revenue: Spong PR: The Diversity Inclusion Action League (DIAL) Committee
The Minneapolis-based firm created the Diversity Inclusion Action League (DIAL) five years ago in order to foster a culture where every staffer appreciates the importance of the matter.
From 2013 to 2014, the firm’s employment of diverse pros increased 28% to where more than 10% of the overall agency’s workforce is now diverse. People of color now make up 12% of Spong’s management. Meanwhile, in the five years of the DIAL program, employee involvement grew from 6 to 68, making it Spong’s largest committee.
Best In-House Diversity Initiative: The Taylor Bennett Foundation
The UK-based foundation created a work-based training program that encourages post-secondary graduates of ethnic and racial minority backgrounds to pursue communications careers.
The program launched in 2008. In its first two years, it sponsored six trainees each. By the end of 2015, the foundation will have started nearly 150 trainees on the path to a PR career. To date, 83% of program graduates are currently working in communications, 78% have done so for at least two years, and 95% have remained employed for at least two years.
Best New Diversity Initiative: G&S Business Communications: Think Differently Together
In May 2015, G&S created “Think Differently Together.” The program challenged every employee to ponder how to create an environment that would foster a more diverse workforce. The judges took particular note of the program’s initial and ongoing meetings internally and with respected diversity and inclusion organizations around the country.
Diversity Champion: Lauren Wesley Wilson, ColorComm Founder
One award is given to an individual who has helped to promote diversity. Wilson greatly impressed the judges as someone truly changing the face of the entire industry.
Wilson launched ColorComm in 2011 as a luncheon series to connect women of color in PR with like-minded individuals. Her hope was to create a network to help women of color on the path to job opportunities in PR. In four years, ColorComm has grown into a national organization with chapters in many large US cities. It has grown from 40 members in 2012 to 400 this year and has more than 30,000 social media followers.
She has also lined up an impressive group of sponsors, including MSLGroup, Weber Shandwick, Edelman, Coca-Cola, and Wells Fargo. The White House even contacted her last year to see how it could partner with ColorComm to fill several communications posts.
The PR Council, established as the Council of Public Relations Firms in 1998, is the U.S. trade association representing America’s leading public relations firms. Its members are the premier global, mid-size, regional, and specialty firms across every discipline and practice area. The PR Council’s mission is to advocate for and advance the business of public relations firms by building the market and the value of firms as strategic business partners. For more information about the PR Council, visit www.prfirms.org.