Diversity & Inclusion in the U.S. Public Relations Industry


Research sponsored by The Plank Center examines the ways leaders view diversity and inclusion, or D&I, efforts as compared to practitioners not in leadership positions.

Previous research indicates the crucial role of leadership for successful D&I results and that leaders see themselves as performing a lot better on D&I than those not in leadership positions. However, Drs. Nilanjana Bardhan and Craig Engstrom, professors at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and advisor at the Plank Center, and Karla Gower, director of The Plank Center, confirmed that non-leader practitioners see leaders as less capable of handling D&I initiatives than leaders see themselves. Leaders are less diverse and they rank themselves higher in these skills and abilities.

Research by the numbers:

  • 35.6% of PR pros see their leaders as highly supportive of D&I efforts, while 60.5% of leaders see themselves as supportive of D&I efforts
  • 16.9% of PR pros see their leaders as having a high amount of personal involvement with D&I efforts compared to 25.6% of leaders
  • Only 22% of PR pros provided a definition that reflects a deep organizational commitment to D&I
  • 27.2% of PR pros showed a lack of organizational commitment to D&I
  • 15.3% of PR pros see their leaders as being able to bring about positive change within the organization compared to 32.6% of leaders

Download the six-page research summary (PDF)