Leeds Business School

PR students partner with international agency to tackle diversity issues in industry

Public Relations students at Leeds Business School have teamed up with an international PR agency to conduct new research that tackles diversity and inclusion issues in the industry.

The exterior of the Rose Bowl main entrance, showing the triangles around the bowl

The final-year students worked alongside Allison and Partners on the research which advises on the future strategic direction agencies and organisations can take. 

The work was also supported by the Public Relations and Communications Association and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations as part of a unique partnership. 

2020 saw a range of initiatives and campaigns developed to address the social concerns around equality, diversity and inclusion in communications employment sectors. 

These initiatives are framed by wider media attention on the question of diversity and inclusivity and have remained some of the dominating media narratives of 2020.

Students interviewed PR practitioners from the UK and Europe about their lived experience of workplace diversity and developed creative communications strategies for agencies and organisations to focus on changing organisation’s culture.  

They also investigated recruitment and progression in workplace practices and ways to turn policies into realities for PR professionals.  

Adina James, Account Manager at Allison PR and Leeds Business School alumni said: “As an ex-student of Leeds Beckett’s Leeds Business School myself, I know how important it is to work with real clients on live projects of real value that have real impact.

“The quality of the work and professionalism of the teams is always a credit to the Business School.  We are planning to put in place many of the recommendations from this latest research.”

PR industry has been no exception to scrutiny surrounding issues of racism and equality, which are likely to remain hotly-debated topics throughout 2021 and beyond.

A report published by the CIPR last year found that many BAME practitioners had experienced microaggressions, racism and unconscious biases during their time in the profession.

Shirley Beresford, Senior Lecturer in Strategic Communications, said: “This was a challenging brief on an important issue for young professionals entering the workplace. 

“Their innovation and appetite for change was tangible and the future of PR as a profession will be changed positively by their impact in the workplace of the future.”

Dee Reid, Director of External Relations at Leeds Beckett University and member of the CIPR’s Education and Skills Committee said: “I am really proud of the work undertaken by our PR students. Their research takes the debate on diversity and inclusion to a new generation of young practitioners who will take the agenda forward.”

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