Be the change you want to see and join the PRCA's working group on sexual harassment

How did you feel when you read the research about sexual harassment in the PR industry, that the PRCA developed in partnership with PRWeek and Women in PR? I'll tell you how I felt - embarrassed.

If reading the sexual harassment survey made you angry, join the PRCA's working group and do something about it, urges Matt Cartmell
If reading the sexual harassment survey made you angry, join the PRCA's working group and do something about it, urges Matt Cartmell

The ugly face of sexual harassment does not fit with my view of PR as a modern, successful industry that should be brutally aware of the pitfalls of bad behaviour.

And I wanted to look the other way.

But, of course, looking the other way is a huge part of the problem - only 14 per cent of those who had experienced some form of harassment said that action had been taken by their employers.

Conversely, 67 per cent of employers buried their heads in the sand when faced with a staff member who had received unwanted attention.

Attention, it’s important to add, that in two thirds of cases had come from someone within their own organisation.

That’s incredibly disappointing, isn’t it?

For me, it disappoints all the more after hearing Jon Chandler, chairman of the PR and Communications Council, talk in February about how PR advisors are pressing their organisations and clients to achieve higher standards, deliver more social value and do the right thing.

He added that he did not think the world had woken up to the idea that the industry had a progressive role to play, reflecting society back to leaders and advocating for positive change.

What a great opportunity - to act as the conscience of society. But how can we do that when our own conscience is guilty?

That’s why – in classic PR industry terms - it’s time to change behaviour, and to do so together.

It’s time to tell the industry that this is not acceptable conduct. And we want the whole industry to get behind this call.

That’s why I’m making a serious request: read PRWeek's article on sexual harassment and if you feel pissed off afterwards, then help us to change it.

Join our cross-industry working group because we can achieve a lot more together. You can get in touch with me at matt.cartmell@prca.org.uk

Matt Cartmell is deputy director general of the PRCA

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