Diversity conversation discusses value of degrees

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Diversity Working Group (DWG) has launched its first in a series of ‘conversations’. The first ‘conversation’, with students in London, discussed the importance of a degree as an entry point for the profession.

Cornelius Alexander: promoting diversity in PR

Held at the College of North East London and chaired by CIPR Fellow Cornelius Alexander, the first event, held on 22 February, was attended by members of the DWG and by PR practitioners of all levels from across the profession and students from the College of North East London.

The first diversity conversation debated at length the benefits of having a more diverse profession and the need for a business case that reflects this. It was agreed that while a university degree is not needed to enter the PR profession, many believed the demand for entry-level positions has enabled recruiters to use degrees as a way to filter applicants. The students present also believed that due to the current economic crisis, a degree was necessary to enter all professions.

Cornelius Alexander, Chair of the CIPR Diversity Working Group, said:

“The opportunity to enter or progress within public relations should be based on talent or merit. However, there is a growing body of work, both here and abroad, which states that other factors including a person’s background, gender, race or physical ability can have an undue influence on how successful they ultimately are in gaining access to, or progressing within, a public relations career. The aim of ‘The Conversation’ is to find out what the actual impact is on students and practitioners, to speak to other key stakeholders and to develop a series of actions by the autumn which promotes greater diversity across the profession.”

Future diversity conversations are to be held with CIPR regional and sectoral groups, employers and key stakeholders such as recruitment agencies specialising in PR.

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