How are Black Women in Public Relations achieving visibility through entrepreneurship?
The State of Representation in Public Relations
Whilst PR organisations are aware of their wide diversity gap and attempt to offer solutions in the form of more research; schemes etc., that address these concerns, they could benefit from affiliating themselves with networks of diverse PR practitioners who are better positioned as experts on what the industry needs to do in order to advance its diversity agenda.
Making a Case for Diversity in Public Relations
The normative view of diversity in PR scholarship calls for the industry to improve its diversity practices based on two primary ideas: its increasingly communication with diverse audiences and inclusive scholarly work as a result of the globalised practice of the profession. The notion of requisite variety which calls for diversity to be practiced equally inside and outside organisations as interpreted by Grunig et al. encourages PR organisations, clients and practitioners to build meaningful relationships with stakeholders in order to strengthen the value and credibility of their communication activities. Whilst this approach and other initiatives to diversify the PR workplace may work theoretically and be effective ‘the policy principle of ‘managing diversity’ is itself fundamentally flawed’ principally because it doesn’t account for intersectional differences and is essentially ‘a tactical tool for managers to use, [meaning] that diversity is stripped of its social and cultural context and instead becomes narrowly understood as a source of competitive advantage, embedded in a Western-centric frame of reference’.
Visibility Through Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship in the context of this paper, is defined as self-employment. A notable and positive effect of the industry’s recognised diversity challenges has sparked conversations wherein the voices contributing to the discussion via social media for example, has unveiled a community of Black female PR practitioners professionals. For the self-employed Black female professionals working independently, their active participation in the discourses on the state of PR and practice as part of asserting their PR brands, convey a strategic visibility that also amplifies their voices. However, strategic visibility as a method to advance female leadership in the workplace is a flawed recommendation that does not consider systemic inequality. For black women, strategic visibility can cause social and personal well-being consequences unless, exercised through the prism of entrepreneurship. Still as self-employed entrepreneurs, Black women are in position of power that enables them to navigate their work environment more fluidly because they are equipped with the freedom to be and choose. Although this does not absolve them from experiencing societal discrimination, the knowledge and experience of their own conditions of visibility, provides them with the unique tools to navigate related barriers and challenges, strategically.
Digital Media, Brand Communities and Image
Similarly to brands no longer needing major platforms to communicate their messages and reach stakeholders, self-employed Black Female practitioners can benefit from building their own brand communities. Therefore, in order to position themselves competitively they could use content as a powerful tool to reach audiences creatively and position themselves thought leaders through their their own social and digital platforms and through relative digital communities.