LONDON — Lansons co-founder and chair Clare Parsons is the first woman to be appointed as the global chair of PROI Worldwide, the world’s largest partnership of independent communications agencies.

Parsons will serve in the post for two years and replaces outgoing chair Richard Tsang, chairman of Hong Kong-based integrated firm SPRG Asia.

PROI Worldwide was founded in Europe in 1970 and now has 75 member agencies across five continents. The group’s net fee income in 2017 was more than $868m.

Parsons told the Holmes Report: “Lansons has been a member of the PROI for some years and we have seen the group transform over that time. As we move towards its 50th year, in two years, it’s a good time to reflect on where we’ve come from, what holds us together, who are we as individual consultancies, and how to utilise our strengths for our clients and ourselves.

“It’s a vibrant time in the industry and I want to seize our moment now when large global businesses are struggling. We will be changing the structure to be leaner, fitter and more future-faced. When we hit our 50th year in two years, PROI will be even more powerful.”

Of the eight-member PROI board, six are women, and Parsons said diversity and inclusion would be a key focus of her tenure: “It’s particularly important to me to be the first woman chair. We’re already talking about setting up a network for diverse people in America to get to board level roles.”

She added: “Across the world, clients are recognising the strengths of independent public relations and communications agencies and that’s why so many PROI Worldwide partner agencies are growing rapidly. Collaboration and cooperation are key themes that I will continue to promote, to develop closer working relationships with all PROI Worldwide partners around the world, by tapping into local market experts who understand the nuances and opportunities in key markets across the world.”

Parsons co-founded reputation management consultancy Lansons with Tony Langham in 1989. She was awarded the Stephen Tallent medal by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations for her contribution to the industry, and is a member of the 30% Club, which champions diversity and inclusion.