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CCNY public relations diversity study wins Innovation Excellence award

Angela Chitkara 2018 Holmes Report Sabre Innovation Excellence Award
Angela Chitkara (photo by Nancy R. Tag)
2018 Sabre Awards for Innovation Excellence (photo by Nancy R. Tag)
The 2018 Holmes Report Sabre Awards for Innovation Excellence (photo by Nancy R. Tag)

The Public Relations industry has a diversity problem that can sometimes result in very public missteps by well-known brands. Think Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner video.

How can PR agencies provide strategic counsel to clients and help create appropriate branding campaigns? By making sure their talent represents the very people being marketed to.

That’s the focus of research by Angela Chitkara, Assistant Professor and PR Track Director of the Branding + Integrated Communications (BIC) Master’s program at The City College of New York. Her study, titled #PR Diversity: The Struggle Is Real, which was recently awarded The Holmes Report 2018 Sabre Award for Innovation Excellence, explores why PR struggles to attract diverse talent AND more importantly, what it can do to retain and advance that talent once it’s in the door.

The study found that the key is cultural inclusion.

Chitkara interviewed 18 current and former CEOs of multinational PR agencies such as Porter Novelli, Edelman and Weber Shandwick to delve into their thinking around diversity and inclusion. Chitkara says “Many CEOs recognize hiring diverse candidates does not guarantee retention without inclusionary efforts. At most firms, however, there’s a lack of formal onboarding, formal training, and formal mentoring.” Since the research was first published by The Holmes Report in July of 2017, progress has been made, with some firms investing resources in inclusionary efforts.

As Chitkara notes, brands also have a critical part to play. They can hold their agency partners accountable by following the lead of Antonio Lucio, CMO of Hewlett Packard, who was recognized by The Holmes Report as an Industry Disruptor for HP’s one-year diversity audit of its PR agency partners.

The #PRDiversity study shows that the industry as a whole can do more by: measuring the degree of diversity in organizations; sharing this information; establishing a standard definition of diversity and inclusion; and fostering collaboration between academia and industry to create a pipeline of diverse talent that can then enter a sustainable, inclusive work environment.

Chitkara points out two instances of academia/industry collaboration already exist right here at City College. “Together with CCNY and BIC students we launched a group initiative called The World in 2020: The Diversity and Inclusion Project. And CCNY’s President Vincent Boudreau recently joined 300 CEOs of multinational corporations in signing the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion created by PricewaterhouseCoopers' Chairman Tim Ryan.”

Download a copy of the study.

About The City College of New York

Since 1847, The City College of New York has provided a high quality and affordable education to generations of New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. Today The Chronicle of Higher Education ranks CCNY #2 among public colleges with the greatest success in ensuring the social mobility of our student body; at the same time the Center for world University Rankings places it in the top 1.2% of universities worldwide in terms of academic excellence. More than 16,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in eight professional schools and divisions, driven by significant funded research, creativity and scholarship. CCNY is as diverse, dynamic and visionary as New York City itself. View CCNY Media Kit.


Media Contact Rebecca Rivera 212.650.5310