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New network launches to tackle lack of racial diversity in Public Affairs

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A new national network has launched, aiming to give a voice to people from ethnically and racially diverse backgrounds who are interested in, working in or progressing their careers in the Public Affairs industry. This new network, the Public Affairs Racial Diversity Network (to be known as PARDN) launches on the first day of National Inclusion Week (26 September 2022). PARDN will be focused on creating real change within the sector. The group will bring together public affairs professionals to help break down some of the barriers in the sector that are preventing people from ethnically diverse backgrounds from entering and succeeding in public affairs. The focus for PARDN will be on three core areas:

  1. Helping people from diverse backgrounds succeed through our network of supportive members
  2. Challenging the sector to change by identifying and creating meaningful actions for PA agencies and in-house teams to adopt to help tackle barriers that exist in recruitment and progression
  3. Helping shape the debate by providing real data points which highlight trends and help tackle barriers to progress – and allow agencies and in-house teams to understand where progress is being made

The new network, which is being sponsored and supported by public affairs consultancy, Cavendish Advocacy, is looking for people to join the Network. The new network is particularly keen to attract in-house and agency public affairs professionals from ethnically and racially diverse backgrounds – and is looking for people who will play a part in helping to shape its future work and activities. The group is also keen to welcome people from non-diverse backgrounds who are keen to champion the network’s aims and support its future work.

Talking of the Network’s launch, Founder of PARDN, Olivia Choudhry, said:

Over the past few years, the public affairs sector has become more aware of the need to attract and retain a more diverse workforce. Across the sector, many companies are taking steps and creating new initiatives to make this happen. But more needs to be done. It is also critical that people from diverse backgrounds play a role in helping to shape the sector, and that we use our voice to help drive the change that is needed. This is a moment for change, and through our network we have an opportunity to have a real impact.

Jennifer Riddell-Carpenter, Board Director at Cavendish Advocacy, the founding sponsor of the Network, said:

This new network will help create real change – by bringing people together, and aiming to tackle many of the barriers that prevent people from diverse backgrounds pursuing a career in public affairs. As a business, we’re increasingly focused on creating a more diverse and inclusive company, and we’re also asking ourselves what more we can do to play our part in helping create meaningful change in the sector– so we’re delighted to support the launch of PARDN, and to be a founding sponsor of the new network. We’ll be doing what we can to support the network as it grows and delivers on its ambitions.

Stephen Pomeroy, CEO of Built Environment Communications Group, said:

Public affairs consultants are change-makers. At the heart of what we do is to create change and provide challenge – and the sector needs to do more to challenge itself to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce – one that represents the people we’re seeking to engage with. I’m delighted to support this network and encourage all agencies, in-house teams and sector leaders to do what they can to champion the network’s aims within their own organisations.

Chair of the PRCA Public Affairs Board, Liam Herbert, said:

We know that the public affairs industry must do a much better job at representing the people we serve – and though work has been done, it is incumbent on all of us to actively promote change and broaden opportunities to reflect the society we operate within. The PRCA PAB is delighted to support the launch of PARDN, and we look forward to working with its membership as it develops its network, helping us to drive change across the sector.

To find out more information about PARDN and to see how you can get involved, please email Olivia Choudhry. You can find and follow PARDN on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.

Written by: Rachel Lawal

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