PR professionals and journalists working in the UK’s technology sector have expressed concern about the slow progress being made towards improved diversity and social mobility in their industries.
A survey of UK Technology Journalist and PR (TechJPR) community members, commissioned by Golin, found 63% of respondents believe social mobility is not a reality in their industry. More than two thirds (68%) said unspoken biases affect hiring decisions. The same number (68%) said diversity is improving, but more needs to be done.
Only 18% said people of all backgrounds have an equal chance of finding work at present, and just 7% of respondents said they are proud of the social diversity in their industry.
Daryl Willcox, founder and chairman of ResponseSource, which curates TechJPR, said: “These numbers are really disappointing and social mobility is clearly an issue that needs to be addressed. Now we have an idea of the real scale of the issue of social mobility within tech media, we can begin to do something about it. TechJPR has well over 3,700 members and can be a great resource to help those looking for jobs and also those trying to hire so they can do so in a fair way, beyond traditional approaches.”
Bibi Hilton (pictured right), managing director of Golin, said: “All communications businesses need to do more to better reflect the world they communicate with. They must encourage people from all backgrounds into their businesses and do all they can to strip out unjust or unjustifiable barriers to entry, including exploitative practices such as unpaid internships which perpetuate the idea that careers in PR and the media are only open to those from privileged backgrounds.”
As well as running an award-winning paid intern programme, Golin recently announced Golin B&B, a scheme to provide paid interns from outside London with a month’s rent-free accommodation in the capital and further financial assistance to make relocating to London more manageable.
Hilton added: “We want to hire the best creative brains in the UK and we don’t want brilliant people turning down an internship with us or being put off applying in the first place due to the cost of living. As such it is essential to our business success that we help people overcome the prohibitive costs of relocating to London where so much of our industry is based.”
The survey also looked at attitudes towards the so-called ‘gig economy’ where employers will increasingly make use of freelance staff and contractors on short-term contracts, enabling them to manage a more flexible workforce.
A quarter of respondents (27%) believe the ‘gig economy’ will not affect their role, but among others opinions are divided on whether it will affect them for the better or worse. More than half (52%) expressed concerns it will mean less job security, while 44% believe it will be used to drive down wages and 40% believe it will result in reduced employee rights. However, 33% of respondents said they expect workforces to become more flexible and there to be more opportunities for all.
For those looking to break into either industry it may not be such good news. 42% of respondents said the ‘gig economy’ will make it tougher for people starting out who don’t have contacts to approach for work.