Social mobility? It’s on you.
Yesterday evening, attendees of the CIPR AGM, this year taking place in Newcastle and coinciding with the Northern Conference, were lucky enough to hear from the Rt Hon Alan Milburn who delivered this year’s keynote speech.
The subject was social mobility.
Pulling no punches, he opened his keynote with stark facts and data that can’t be denied - the UK is currently experiencing a profound social crisis. It's a country that is deeply divided. And it's getting worse, not better.
It’s an issue that continues to snowball, with inequality and division so entrenched that we all turn the other way, declaring it impossible to solve. Alan told of a session he organised last year in Salford, attended by the BBC, local employers, youngsters and a range of other stakeholders - they spent the first hour complaining that the government had done nothing to remedy the situation. Alan told them to stop waiting for government assistance - it won’t come. Instead, think about what you can do for yourselves - what can you do to force change?
And that’s very much the question levelled at the PR professionals gathered for the 2018 CIPR AGM. Public relations, like accountancy, law, banking or medicine, is still extremely lacking in terms of BAME representation and social diversity.
We have a responsibility to change the status quo, as do other professionals, whatever their field.
The 2018 Social Mobility Employers Index, launched this week, gives cause for optimism and shows the increasing understanding of the issues this country faces and the role business has in affecting change - whether that’s by changing recruiting methods and bias towards independent schools and Russell Group Universities, eliminating unpaid internships and work experience, ending snobbery about vocational qualifications, or supporting young people in getting to grips with the professional world, which, for many, will be completely alien.
We must all consider what we can do to encourage more diverse social representation within our professions, whether that’s by mentoring youngsters, speaking in local schools, changing recruitment policies, or something else entirely.
If we want to create a better future for our children, one where hard work pays off, then it's on us.
What will you do?