81.5% of Public Relations Specialists are White and only 8.78% are African American.
In a report given at the PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) Educators Academy Conference, Bey-Ling Sha, Ph.D., stated, “A very real possibility exists that minorities are not entering the public relations profession because the industry has failed to explicate to professionals the viability of this career option” (Tindall, Natalie. Diversity in the PR field: Some progress, though challenges persist. 2012 Feb. Retrieved from http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/Diversity_in_the_PR_field_Some_progress_though_cha_10753.aspx).
An environment lacking racial or cultural diversity can, in various ways, make it harder and easier to practice ethics in public relations. According to PR Daily, “A 2010 census of PRSA’s 22,000 professional members shows that 14 percent of the membership self-identified as Hispanic, black/African American, Asian/Asian American” (Tindall, Natalie. Diversity in the PR field: Some progress, though challenges persist. 2012 Feb).
Since there is such a low representation of minority engagement in organizations like the PRSA, this motivates racial entities to form their own ethics enforcement groups and standards. “Founded in 1998, the National Black Public Relations Society (NBPRS) has served as an advocate for black professionals in public relations, media relations, corporate communications, investor relations, government affairs, community relations, and related fields” (NBPRS. http://nbprs.org/nbprs-history.html). This provides African Americans and other minorities with perhaps even more resources to learn and uphold ethical PR standards.
However, it can also be harder to uphold ethical PR standards in a non-diverse environment because clientele should and will be culturally and racially different. A firm will not be successful or ethical if they only provide services catering to one ethnicity, culture or race. Therefore, they need diverse PR professionals to offer insight into different cultures and races to better serve every company they represent.
According to our reading, “Public relations professionals are called upon to deliver more effective messages; promote deeper understanding between an organization and its publics; increase employee attraction and retention; enrich public relations departments with diverse talents, fertile dialogue and increased innovation; improve corporate reputation and expand market shares in diversity segments of stakeholder publics” (Castania, K. Diversity: What is Diversity? 2006).
Still, I believe analyzing whether ethics in PR is easier or harder in a racially diverse environment is situational and certain circumstances warrant different actions or outcomes. It can be easier for some if the environment is not diverse because they can venture off to create their own groups dedicated to enforcing ethics in PR for their specific culture or race. It can also be harder if the company cannot properly service diverse clientele in an ethical manner because they are not employing diverse PR representatives.
To make it in a diverse work environment, PR professionals must have a desire for cultural and racial education. Elizabeth Toth stated, “Practitioners must consider diversity in the research, strategy, tactics, and evaluation phases. Practitioners cannot generalize about any publics or audiences. Practitioners must gather sound information about perceptions, attitudes and values, and behaviors when seeking to build relationships with key groups” (Toth, Elizabeth. Diversity and Public Relations Practice. 2009 April. Retrieved from http://www.instituteforpr.org/diversity-and-pr-practice/). The ability to research and understand a variance of cultures and races can make all the difference to working effectively in a diverse environment.
Castania, K. (2006). Diversity: What is diversity? Cornell University Cooperative Extension. Retrieved January 9, 2009, from http://diversity.cce.cornell.edu.
Tindall, Natalie. Diversity in the PR field: Some progress, though challenges persist. 2012 Feb. Retrieved from http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/Diversity_in_the_PR_field_Some_progress_though_cha_10753.aspx).
National Black Public Relations Society, Inc. NBPRS. Retrieved from http://nbprs.org/nbprs-history.html.