MIRIAM MYERS Head of Talent Acquisition, freuds
BLACK PEOPLE ARE GREAT TALENT, WE CAN'T SEE IT AS BEING SEPARATE
As individuals, we must look into ourselves and ask if we are being truthful and authentic with our experiences. Perhaps more importantly, we must strive to do so corporately, and explore the areas that we need to make a change in.
Recruitment and retention will play a significant in bringing in more diversity into the PR industry. Now more than ever, we have to go beyond keeping up appearances and making superficial changes that fail to have a lasting impact. It is important to understand the gaps and to do the work to transform representation in the industry.
There is a lot of potential to make a positive and lasting change and I’m passionate about using the tools we have to do that.
I‘ve been in recruitment for over 10 years, both on the agency side and in-house, where I have worked with some of the most well-known PR firms in the UK.
As I started out in my professional career, recruitment was not a choice I considered.
After university, I followed my interest in fashion where I worked as an assistant buyer for Arcadia Group and Ralph Lauren, and The White Company.
I took some time out and wanted to challenge myself to do something else. On reflection, I realised the things I loved about fashion, including pitching to the heads of buying and building connections with our suppliers etc., were aligned with recruitment.
As I was looking for something that would be a stopgap, before going back into fashion, I took up an opportunity in recruitment and gained more opportunities specifically in PR recruitment. I was fortunate to get head-hunted from firm to firm, as I developed in my career, and never left.
As I have continued to build up in my career, I have seen the need for more diversity in the industry and to create intentional changes to attract and retain a more diverse pool of applicants.
I believe this goes beyond the surface level measures, and into more intentional and specific measures to attract a diverse talent group.
While many firms in PR have a diverse range of clients, working with companies and projects from the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and more, often the teams they work with do not reflect that same diversity and are likely to have little-to-no representation from those regions within their teams.
A diverse client base means that we can also strive to have more diverse workforces, and in fact necessitates it, so that we can have more diversity of thought and background to better serve clients and stakeholders. Ultimately, reflecting the communities that we sever makes a better agency and a better business.
The best talent comes from a diverse background, not only in terms of individuals being from a diverse range of community groups themselves but from different sources to attract a range of experiences that will ultimately benefit a company.
I believe that if a pool of candidates is wide enough, we ought to confidently hire the very best candidate for the job knowing that the candidate will reflect the diverse pool that was drawn from. We ought to build the understanding that hiring Black and/or minority groups is the same thing as hiring the best talent and should be our focus.
Recruitment, however, is only half the journey.
It is just as important to create an internal culture that makes people feel that they can be authentic selves even as they go into the business. It is this level of authenticity that brings about the diversity of thought and other benefits of having a diverse workforce.
A key part of this is having the right leadership in all tiers of the company. I have personally thrived when I have felt as though I could be my authentic self and was able to see others that I could learn from in leadership positions. I recall in one of my past roles thriving when my boss was a Black woman as I could see myself (and thus development) in her allowing me to be my authentic self.
These and other necessary changes in the areas of recruitment and retention, should not consider Black people and people of colour in a singular thought.
Creating diversity in the PR industry should accommodate all marginalised groups,with the understanding that Black and ethnic minority people are also multi-dimensional.
No longer should we have to wait until something so tragic takes place, to stir us to action.
What are we waiting for to happen with disability rights before we realise that we need to create access for more disabled people?
What are we waiting to see happen in the trans community, before we realise that there’s a need for more trans people in our agencies?