Almost half of BIPOC in PR report job discrimination

However, a Leger survey also reveals high levels of feeling trusted and valued, particularly among those working in agencies.


According to a new survey conducted by Leger, almost half of BIPOC working in PR (48%) report that they have been passed over for a job or promotion because of bias or discrimination, almost twice that of their white counterparts.

What’s more, white professionals dominate the upper echelons of power, holding 84% of executive roles among respondents, despite parity at intermediate and senior levels for racialized groups.

Leger’s survey polled 1,231 Canadian communications professionals, commissioned by the Canadian Council of Public Relations Firms (CCPRF), the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) and the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). The survey included 24% self-identified BIPOC professionals, with nearly half being from PR agencies and the rest holding communications roles in the corporate, government or non-profit sectors.

Among the BIPOC surveyed, 52% believe “it is hard for someone like me” to advance in their career, with 50% saying it is hard to find employment in the first place. Nearly twice as many BIPOC believe their work is more heavily scrutinized than their peers.

And BIPOC professionals still feel pressured to toe the line: 45% feel they must “conform and be someone I’m not to fit in,” significantly more than white counterparts. However, that number dips slightly, to 31%, when looking just at those working in public relations agencies.


Canadian Public Relations Society-Canada-s PR industry releases

Notwithstanding previous career experiences, 85% of BIPOC in PR are proud of the industry, with 75% recommending it to other BIPOC. And 85% of respondents, including 77% of BIPOC, agree their current employer “has created an inclusive, positive environment where one is valued regardless of identity, including race, gender, physical ability or sexual orientation.” Among respondents working in the agency world, the numbers are higher: 93% of respondents, including 91% of BIPOC professionals.

BIPOC professionals feel trusted (86%), valued (84%), respected (79%) and accepted for who they are (77%) – even more so among those who work in agencies (trusted: 90%; valued: 89%; respected: 84%; accepted: 92%).

But on the personal level, that stands in contrast with their own job satisfaction, as only 64% are satisfied with their current positions and 52% believe they are being treated equally. And once again, BIPOC at agencies are more likely to be satisfied with their current position (71%).

Leger concedes that the survey results are limited, as it does not allow a segmented analysis of the distinct experiences of Black, Indigenous or LGBTQ+ professionals, and risks presenting the BIPOC experience as homogenous. The committee that conducted the survey is recommending follow-up research that allows to better understand the experiences of different communities and the unique barriers they may be facing.