By Jenni Hollis, Head of Client Services, GK Strategy
Ever walked into a meeting room or networking event and felt different to those around you? Ever been mistaken for a waitress, when you’re actually the campaign manager? The latter happened to me in a previous role, and I’ve heard plenty of similar tales over the years. All excruciating, all exposing a burning need for change.
While heaps of improvements have been made, diversity in politics, political parties and political professions remains far too low. To make matters worse, many young people feel increasingly alienated by a political world that they don’t understand, and by people that simply don’t look or sound like them.
More needs to be done to improve diversity within our industry and UK politics more generally. That’s why, here at GK Strategy, we are thrilled to become the founding partner for I have a voice.
Run by the brilliant Rebecca Deegan, I have a voice is a social enterprise aiming to empower diverse young people to engage with politics.
Through its Youth Ambassador programme, I have a voice has already engaged a vibrant and diverse pool of young people, who are now more enthusiastic about the PR and political communications profession.
Nearly all of I have a voice’s ambassadors are female and around 40% are from BAME backgrounds. They are all from non-fee paying schools, based in different areas of the country. I was so happy and impressed to hear about their current advocacy campaigns on disability rights, fast fashion and diversifying the curriculum.
Rebecca is already engaging with schools across the country to grow her network of ambassadors. She’s also seeking to facilitate work experience programmes, so that these diverse candidates gain exposure to, and have a route into, the sector.
GK Strategy will take part in I have a voice’s work experience programme, and our team will contribute to the schools’ outreach. We will also provide pro-bono media and branding support to raise the profile of this fantastic initiative.
We encourage other agencies and organisations in our sector to get involved too. In return for support from businesses, I have a voice will promote work experience and internship opportunities to their network and give your staff the opportunity to engage with the stars of the future.
You’ll also get to contribute to one of the biggest challenges our industry faces: how can we give the best advice without the broadest set of perspectives in the room?
Shaking up our industry to ensure diversity, and therefore the best possible political advice, is no mean feat. There are no silver bullets – and senior hires alone won’t solve the problem. It will take time to recruit and train more diverse, entry-level candidates, and for them to become the leading consultants and managing directors of tomorrow.
Rebecca’s initiative is one of the vital first steps in this mammoth task, and GK Strategy is delighted to be standing by her and supporting her as I have a voice’s founding partner.