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Ten tips for those agencies out there looking to recruit and retain working class talent from our own Amy Jones
thinking
2nd January 2023

Ten tips for those agencies out there looking to recruit and retain working class talent from our own Amy Jones

The traditional January recruit-a-thon is back. Post-the ‘Great Resignation’ of 2021, there’s never been a better time to find new talent. Last year continued the overdue drive for diversity and representation, but one overlooked area is class.

Class diversity is critical to creativity, and ultimately winning and keeping clients. We want the fun of fast-food brands and budget retailers (let’s not pretend that John Lewis and Poundland don’t have a different customer base), but to truly understand the people that consume these brands, we need more than a fam trip. We need people working with us that grew up with them.

Where to find these people is tricky and needs more consideration than I have space for here. I will say to look further than the usual universities and courses, and beyond university education entirely as it becomes more out of reach for working-class families. Plus, that schools in low-income areas are not suggesting PR as a career option, so our industry misses out on hard-working, smart people with an interesting lived experience.

I can, however, offer these 10 top tips*, for those who want to help working-class people who have found PR to get on the ladder and climb confidently:

1. Pay for travel to entry-level interviews and do the first via Zoom.

2. Ignore what a person wears to their interview. You need money to buy clothes, but you need clothes to get the interview to get the job to get the pay for the clothes to go to the interview…

3. Working the first month in arrears, particularly for your first ever job, can be catastrophic. Find another way.

4. In fact, if you’re a big player, offer probation period accommodation grants that low-income workers can apply for.

5. Inviting a new person to their first awards do? Be clear on what they need to do/bring/wear/whether they can expense a taxi. Don’t assume they know or make them ask. If you have posh clothes lending schemes, all the better!

6. Work experience for free is (mostly) dead. But asking junior staff to pay for props etc from their own pocket and claim it back afterward is assuming a solvency that many don’t have.

7. Not everyone knows how to use a cafetière or where to book a client for lunch. Give clear instructions and/or time to research.

8. Send menus in advance of dinners/lunches, to avoid situations where people are secretly googling food items under the table, inadvertently eating edamame pods or speed-watching Titanic in the loos for a reminder of how to use the cutlery (outside in, outside in…).

9. Be mindful that not everyone has been on long-haul holidays, eaten in fancy restaurants or will ever own a home – whatever their life stage or position.

10. And finally… publish your salary bands. Working-class people are more likely to feel imposter syndrome, be overly grateful for employment, and less likely to have the safety net required to force an employer’s hand with a notice hand-in. This is unfairly detrimental to their earning power.

Amy Jones, Board Creative Director, Hope&Glory. This article first appeared on PR Week

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