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Only 17 percent of public affairs staff are people of color: survey

Only 17 percent of public affairs staff are people of color: survey
© Greg Nash

Public affairs executives revealed that only 17 percent of public affairs staff on average at firms are people of color.

Sixty-one percent of executives said that the lack of diversity discourages individuals from entering the public affairs field, according to a survey of 127 executives conducted by the Public Affairs Council between Feb. 9 and March 5.

The survey is part of the Public Affairs Council’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiative and also examined hiring, staffing and training, and advancement and programming, among other criteria. Public Affairs Council is a nonpartisan association for public affairs professionals.

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The survey found that 40 percent of executives said their team has below-average diversity compared to the field and only 23 percent said their team has above-average diversity.

A large majority, 83 percent, believe diversity and inclusion among public affairs professionals will increase in three to five years, and 35 percent said there is a process in place to support the advancement of people of color to senior positions.

“Respondents are viewing their team’s diversity as it actually is, rather than as they think it should or could be,” Public Affairs Council President Doug Pinkham said in a statement. “This honest assessment will help us set a path to progress as we work to fulfill the objectives of our DEI initiative."

Sixty-five percent of executives said there is a formal DEI plan in place, and 57 percent said there is at least one staff member primarily focused on increasing diversity in the office.