NEW YORK — While most PR practitioners are advising clients on diversity and inclusion, they don’t necessarily have the training or budget to promote DEI in their own organizations, according to a new study from Muck Rack and researcher Angela Chitkara.

Specifically, the survey found 97% of PR pros said they are at least “somewhat familiar” with DEI practices and 93% are confident advising clients and stakeholders on issues related to DEI. Meanwhile, 79% provide strategic counsel to clients, colleagues and brand stakeholders.

Yet, only 41% said that their organization allocates budget for DEI and 53% said their organization does not require DEI training.

“Doing what we say matters, more than ever”, says Angela Chitkara, The World in 2020 Project’s lead research. “We have entered an age of stakeholder capitalism in which an organization’s words need to align with its actions. The lack of diversity and inclusion poses social risks to an organization. The data suggests there is a leadership deficit and lack of budgetary resources to effectively support the DEI function across an organization.”

In addition, only 13% said leadership informs the strategic counsel they provide. Instead, 39% turn to mission and brand values, while 35% follow what they believe is the “right thing to do.”

More than one-half of those surveyed said that communicating their efforts was their highest priority related to DEI — above counseling stakeholders on DEI issues, changing the way they pitch stories or changing the partners they work with.

The survey of 434 agency and in house communicators also found:

  • 78% ranked race and ethnicity as their highest priority issue for engaging with DEI through PR, while people with disabilities ranked the lowest at 42%. PR pros must put more focus on inclusion.
  • 75% ranked race and ethnicity inequities as the DEI issue they care about most, while political inequities ranked lowest with 36%.
  • 36% said a lack of lived experiences was their greatest challenge with pitching stories to diverse audiences. This suggests more training and cultural fluency is needed.
  • 80% do not have a contingency PR plan in place post the US Elections, suggesting they will be reactive during these unprecedented times.
  • 82% of employees said they are aligned with their organizations' DEI values.
  • 35% said they do not find it difficult to pitch to diverse audiences.
  • 74% said they are optimistic about their organizations' commitment to DEI in 2021.

“PR pros have an important role to play in shaping public opinion and ensuring stories that represent marginalized communities are a part of the national media discourse,” says Muck Rack co-founder and CEO, Greg Galant. “These results show that a well-balanced, diverse media diet is needed.”