Arun Sudhaman 14 Jan 2022 // 12:00PM GMT
PRovoke Media today publishes diversity and inclusion data for its 2021 and 2020 events, awards juries and editorial portfolio — against a series of minimum targets and commitments that the company committed to hold itself publicly accountable to from 2020 onwards.
As the foremost media and events platform for the global PR industry, PRovoke Media recognises it has a crucial role to play in addressing systemic racial exclusion, and is committed to driving real change wherever it can. This includes, for example, last year's groundbreaking pay gap research in North America, EMEA and Asia-Pacific.
The international nature of PRovoke Media's footprint means that the focus is on systemically under-represented groups in the various regions in which the company operates. Our commitments and targets are informed by such initiatives as the Call for Change, the Blueprint, as well as our own lengthy track record of covering this area. We are open to all ideas, suggestions, feedback and — of course — constructive criticism as to how we can continue to drive change.
When selecting executives for our events, SABRE juries and so forth, a range of considerations come into play. Seniority is often chief amongst them, lending a bias towards heads of functions and agency CEOs — an executive level that is overwhelmingly white.
We cannot ignore that this kind of thinking reinforces systemic bias, because it excludes people of colour from public platforms that not only help advance their careers, but also provide tangible examples of what that advancement looks like. Unless the industry sees more people of colour on public platforms, they will continue to be excluded from them. And unless more people of colour are featured on these platforms, they will continue to be excluded from the career benefits that accrue from these opportunities — all of which slows down the overall rate of change in the public relations industry.
The diversity and inclusion data and targets reported below are published on an annual basis by PRovoke Media. Furthermore, these targets and commitments form part of the criteria we consider when it comes to the bonus and compensation incentives of our leadership team. Improving diversity and addressing bias within our editorial and events is also a part of the performance evaluation for all members of the PRovoke Media team.
PRovoke Media has commited to the following minimum targets regarding its event portfolio, including all conferences, roundtables and bespoke events. We publish our data on an annual basis and report our progress on all of these criteria.
- 35% of our speakers will be PoC across all events on an annual basis
- 35% of our speakers will be PoC per geographic region on an annual basis
- 35% of our speakers will be PoC per individual conference (excluding India)
- 15% of our speakers at conferences in the US and UK will be Black
- Every PRovoke Media session or panel of more than three people will aim to include at least one PoC. This includes our Cannes CEO Roundtable, where we actively seek more diverse voices from agencies.
- We call on agencies to include their sponsored PRovoke Media sessions within their diversity commitments and anti-racism policies. This means that they must commit to these targets for their sessions; sponsors will be held accountable against these criteria, which will be clearly communicated in all of our partnership information.
In 2021, 61% of the 227 speakers that featured at PRovoke Media events across the globe were white, compared to 57% in 2020 and 68% in 2019. Which means that PRovoke Media exceeded its 35% PoC target in each of the past three years, with 39% in 2021 and 43% in 2020. However, this result is typically skewed by Asia-Pacific events.
In 2021, 35.5% of the speakers at our North American events, including our flagship Global Summit, were PoC, exceeding that particular target. However, only 7.5% were Black, an unacceptable decline from the 11% recorded in 2020, and well below the 15% target.
In the UK, including our Cannes Condensed event, 24.5% of speakers were PoC in 2021, below the 35% target. However, 14.5% were Black, just falling short of the 15% target.
In Asia-Pacific, 57% of speakers were Asian, while 23.5% of speakers at our MENA event are from local backgrounds, including Arab, Levantine and African. Based on this performance we will target 60% Asians at our Asia-Pacific events, and 25% MENA ethnicities at our MENA events, from 2022 onwards.
PRovoke Media has committed to the following minimum targets regarding its SABRE juries. We publish our data on an annual basis and report our progress on all of these criteria.
- 45% of our SABRE jurors will be PoC across all competitions on an annual basis
- 50% of our SABRE Africa jury will be Black
- 35% of our SABRE North America and EMEA juries will be PoC
- 15% of our SABRE North America and EMEA juries will be Black
- We call on agencies and corporates to include their juror nominations within their diversity commitments and anti-racism policies.
50% of our 270 SABRE jurors across all of our 2021 competitions were from non-white backgrounds, compared to 38% in 2020 and 2019. While that means we met our 45% PoC target in 2021, this result is typically skewed by SABRE Awards South Asia and LatAm juries.
In North America, 30.5% of judges were not white in 2021, compared to 16.5% in 2020, but still falling short of our 35% PoC target. 13.5% of jurors were Black, up from 3% in 2020, but slightly falling short of the 15% target.
For SABRE EMEA, only 19% of judges were PoC, up from 4.5% in 2020, but still some way below the 35% target. 11% of jurors were Black, compared to 0% in 2020, but falling short of the 15% target.
In 2021, only 25% of our Africa jury was Black, down from 52.5% in 2020 and 34% in 2019. While we met our 50% target in 2020, it is worrying to see such a steep fall in 2021.
Meanwhile, in Asia-Pacific, (excluding the South Asia jury) only 21.5% of judges were white in 2021, reflecting a continued focus on ensuring that Asians are appropriately represented in their region. 32% were East Asian, 23% South Asian and 21.5% Southeast Asian. Based on this performance we will add another SABRE target from 2022 onwards, that Asians will account for at least 75% of our Asia-Pacific jury.
PRovoke Media's two primary executive lists are the Influence 100 (comprising 100 global in-house communications leaders) and the Innovator 25 (spotlighting 25 'changemakers' in North America, EMEA and Asia-Pacific).
The Influence 100, in particular, has long struggled with diversity and inclusion, as it prioritises the heads of communications and marketing functions. Once again, we believe that this kind of change must be made visible for it to happen — including more PoC on this list is one way to ensure that they are more often considered for leadership roles.
PRovoke Media has committed to the following minimum targets regarding its Influence 100 and Innovator 25 lists. We publish our data on an annual basis and report our progress on all of these criteria.
- 25% of the Influence 100 will be PoC and 15% will be Black
- 35% of the Innovator 25 will be PoC on a global basis
- 35% of the Innovator 25 in EMEA and Americas will be PoC
- 15% of the Innovator 25 in EMEA and Americas will be Black
- We call on agencies and corporates to include their Influence 100 and Innovator 25 nominations within their diversity commitments and anti-racism policies.
When the Influence 100 first launched, around 90% of the list was white. We have since made a conscious effort to redress this imbalance and comfortably met our targets in 2021, when 48% were PoC and 24% were Black. Based on this performance, we will revise the Influence 100 target from 2022 onwards to 40% PoC and 20% Black.
Of the 75 people on our Innovator 25 in 2021, 49% were white, ensuring that we exceeded our 35% PoC target.
In the Americas, though, 32% were PoC, slightly falling short of the PoC target for that region. 20% were Black, ahead of the 15% target for the second consecutive year. Based on this performance we will revise the Innovator 25 Americas target to 20% Black.
In EMEA, all Innovator 25 targets were exceeded in 2021 (for the second consecutive year), with 48% PoC and 24% Black in 2021. Based on this performance we will revise the Innovator 25 EMEA targets to 45% PoC and 25% Black.
In Asia-Pacific, 28% of the Innovator 25 were white in 2021 and 24% in 2020. Based on this performance we will add another Innovator target from 2022 onwards, that Asians will account for at least 75% of our Innovator 25 list.
Other targets & measures
To support these efforts PRovoke Media remains committed to the following steps to help advance racial equity in our coverage and benchmarking of the PR industry:
- Agency diversity and inclusion data and reporting are now overt criteria in our Agencies of the Year and Best Agencies to Work For research.
- We have extended our zero-tolerance policy to racism to encompass all SABRE entries and campaign work that we assess and publish.
- We remain committed to ensuring that Black and PoC executives are represented as voices and spokespersons across our editorial content. To add your voice, please contact us.
- We apply the same commitment to the imagery we choose to use across our editorial and social media presence.
- We will open up our platform, specifically our social media accounts and PRovoke Media podcast, to guest hosts from under-represented communities on a regular basis. To get involved, please contact us.
- These targets follow our existing commitment to ensure 50% of our speakers and listed executives are female across all of our platforms, which remains in place and will form part of our annual diversity and inclusion reporting.
- In 2021, PRovoke Media's 10-member team was 20% PoC, including more than half of its leadership and almost half of its shareholder equity. We commit to increase that proportion and to prioritise measures that improve the diversity of our various suppliers and freelance network.