Racism in global PR firms: The need for a more inclusive approach

By Gina Din

The public relations industry is a powerful force in the business world, offering strategic communication and marketing services to companies around the globe. The industry has grown and evolved in many ways over the years, but one issue that remains persistent is the lack of diversity in leadership positions of global PR firms, particularly the lack of global representation in those advising the African market

As an African PR authority with 30 years of experience, I have seen firsthand the implications of this lack of diversity. Global PR companies are regularly called upon to advise multinationals on doing business in Africa, yet the leadership teams within these firms are overwhelmingly dominated by western professionals. This creates a significant disconnect between the needs and perspectives of the African market and the strategies developed by global PR firms.

One of the main challenges is that global PR companies are merely ticking boxes when working with African PR agencies, without involving them in the decision-making process. This approach is ineffective as it fails to incorporate the valuable input of African professionals into overall strategy development.

PR agencies have split their businesses into regions, with senior management from headquarters running the regions. However, the lack of representation of Africans in leadership positions is problematic. The lack of understanding and appreciation of African culture, politics, and business needs from a western perspective often results in strategies that are not reflective of the unique challenges and opportunities present in Africa.

Diversity issues in global PR firms is not limited to Africa. Industry statistics on diversity and inclusion highlight the underrepresentation of various underrepresented groups, including African, Black, Asian, and minority ethnic professionals. This lack of diversity not only perpetuates harmful stereotypes but also limits the perspectives and insights that inform communication strategies.

Clients need to take a more proactive approach in questioning the diversity policies and practices of the PR agencies they work with in Africa. It is vital that clients push for a more inclusive approach, ensuring that African voices are heard and are part of the decision-making process. Additionally, global PR firms must have more representation of African professionals in leadership positions to incorporate African perspectives into their work. Hiring of Africans simply to execute is not enough.

The PR industry must address these issues and ensure a more inclusive approach to its strategy. It’s essential to have a range of perspectives to create respectful communication strategies that consider the unique challenges of doing business in Africa. Strategies must deliberately embrace the need for diversity and inclusion.

(Gina Din is a renowned PR practitioner in Kenya and the founder of the country’s pioneer PR agency, Gina Din Group. She’s also the author of “Daughter of Africa – An autobiography“. The post has been republished from LinkedIn).


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