The profession is in a right old state. This is a pissed off post - less talk, more action please

CIPR State of the Profession survey reports diversity and inclusion problem and mental health epidemic. This is a pissed off post: when will we learn?

In February 2017, Stephen Waddington and I published a #FuturePRoof report for the PRCA which characterised the issue of mental health and the cost of absence to the PR profession.

Within this we made recommendations for agency owners and managers and signposted individuals to sources of help to try and make a change within organisational culture. The problem was already stark.

Fast forward two years and according to the CIPR State of the Profession, the sector is in crisis.

Workload, unsociable hours and unrealistic expectations are all driving stress, with 63% of respondents rating the stressfulness of their job at 7 out of 10 or above. 23% of respondents have reported sickness absence on the grounds of stress, anxiety or depression.


White, well paid and public schooled

Coupled with this, the CIPR reports that the sector is failing to make any progress on diversity and inclusion.

According to the survey, more than nine in ten (92%) classify as white, the third increase in as many years.

Meanwhile four times as many practitioners as the national average apparently attended a fee paying school. When you read that those who attended a private school are more likely on average to hold a senior post and be paid accordingly compared to those who did not, does that seem fair to you?

Despite every PR event in the land featuring Billy Big Bollocks talking about how we need to represent the audiences we serve, lip service appears to be the best we can do.

For an industry that purports to place people front and centre of our work, it appears we are spectacularly failing and worst, we’re all apparently cool with that.


It takes a village

The thing is it’s going to take a village to raise this child.

With both leadership bodies acknowledging the issues and providing policy advice, it’s now down to organisations and individuals to drive change.

Collective responsibility means we all have to step up and make the interventions needed to make our workplaces happy and healthy and inclusive to all.

The help is out there and where it’s not, practitioners need to ask for it – or do what’s needed to make it happen.


Give people a leg up

It’s one of the reasons I launched Socially Mobile this year, a new charity aimed at improving social mobility within our industry.

Socially Mobile will help those from disadvantaged backgrounds get the leadership and management skills they need to unlock their earning potential. It’s supported by Reuben Sinclair, a progressive recruitment agency also trying to widen the talent pool by showing how recruiting differently can change the makeup of teams for the better.

So the ask is this: what can you do for the better? If you want to motivate your team and drive up profits, start internally and start now.  Stop repeating platitudes like there is much to do, instead get a move on and make it happen.