In an eight-point list of recommendations, the manifesto gives clear guidance on issues such as getting the recruitment process right and creating an inclusive working environment, through to setting measurable objectives to track progress.
The launch event, which took place at The Red Consultancy’s offices last night, saw speakers including Ignite founder Bieneosa Ebite, Insight Public Affairs MD John Lehal, Race for Opportunity national director Sandra Kerr and CIPR CEO Jane Wilson.
Lehal focused on unpaid internships, stating: ‘Unpaid internships in PR agencies exploit young people and are frankly illegal, but more importantly, they are an unnecessary barrier to the industry.’
He dubbed unpaid internships ‘opportunity hoarding’ and called for the launch of an online hub for paid internships, which would ‘root out promotion of unpaid ones’.
Lehal also pointed to a recent advertisement placed by Open Road for a work experience member for a two- to three-week period.
Lehal said: ‘I’ve never really seen work experience placements openly advertised before, as in my mind they are for when a year 11 student needs to find something to do for their two weeks in June. And although I accept I don’t know the specifics of the duties they have in mind, it does strike me as a curious way for a company to be doing things.
‘Open Road’s advert states "We take ethics very seriously", but I would argue they are being anything but ethical by bringing in unpaid staff to do the work of people they should be paying.’
Open Road CEO Graham McMillan responded to this criticism by stating that advertising work experience placements is recommended practice by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.
McMillan added: ‘If work experience is purely based on contacts and is not advertised, you deny opportunities for people who aren’t contacts or in the network. Open advertising is best practice as it enables social mobility.’
He added that the period of two to three weeks gives people enough time to ‘get to meet people, get training and get career advice’.