When Caitlyn Jenner came out as a transgender woman in Vanity Fair this year, she said: “I’m not doing this to be interesting. I’m doing this to live.” It was a powerful comment that’s stuck with me.
Last week the Equality Network hosted the first-ever Scottish LGBTI Awards – which shortlisted the Scottish Government’s ground-breaking One Scotland campaign for the Public Sector award. Our campaign slogan, “Scotland believes in equality”, is a bold message – honest, aspirational and indicative of work in progress. It resonates. For the general public, it’s a show of support. For visitors to Scotland, it celebrates diversity credentials. For campaigners, it shows the government is listening. For minority groups, it’s proof that they matter in our nation.
In 2014, on behalf of the One Scotland campaign, we commissioned a YouGov survey that found three-quarters of people agree Scotland has made great progress towards equality over the past 10 years. It also showed 89% of Scots believe more work needs to be done to ensure people are treated equally. There’s a desire for change that you can almost taste in the air.
To make it happen, everyone has a part to play.
As communications practitioners, it’s vital that we take diversity and equality into consideration when developing a campaign. It could be as simple as including subtitles on an online video, translating marketing material into the most relevant languages for your audiences and sense-checking that your messages won’t offend anyone.
One of the most important factors is audience profiling. The Department for Education released data this summer that shows school pupils in the UK speak 311 dialects and in some schools English speakers are the minority. In one school, the Daily Express found 342 of the 360 pupils considered Punjabi their first language. In that area, it would be critical to develop a campaign that worked in Pubjabi – not just in English.
CIPR’s Diversity working group has developed a series of research papers, reports and webinars which support PR professionals with an interest in diversity and equality. Did you know 16% of adults in the UK are functionally illiterate and the average reading age is nine years old?
When you start to think about diversity it can feel like a can of worms, but it genuinely affects everyone. It shouldn’t be seen as a choice, it’s a fact of life.