CIPR general election manifesto

CIPR Manifesto photoThe Chartered Institute of Public Relations has published the CIPR Manifesto to “provoke an open and informed debate” ahead of the 2015 UK general election. It discusses seven issues and challenges and for each of them calls for specific action from the next UK government. It is very late in the policy making process so it is unlikely any of the ideas will make it into party manifestos, but I’ve already had a positive response from one Labour shadow minister who wants to take a look at the proposals.

The seven issues and calls to action are:

The future of corporate governance

“We call for government to assist in the creation of a new corporate culture in the UK based on wider value creation and with a firm understanding of the importance of relationships in business decision making.”

This is about looking at issues such as Integrated Reporting (IR) which means that companies don’t just produce annual financial reports, but ones that look at broader performance indicators on the economy, society, environment etc.

The gender pay gap

“We call for government to tackle to gender pay and inequality directly by strengthening the Equal Pay act, ensuring it is applied universally.”

The manifesto doesn’t explicitly call for this, but I believe it is essential that Section 78 of the Equality Act is implemented.  This would mean that all businesses with 250 employees or more will be required to publish annual anonymised details about the hourly pay of men and women they employ. Currently, only five companies across the whole country do this on a voluntarily basis, one of which is Pricewaterhouse Coppers.  According to the PRWeek Top 150 PR Consultancies list 2014 there are just three consultancies with more than 250 employees – Edelman, Weber Shandwick and Instinctif Partners. As far as I’m aware none of them publish the data. There are 10 consultancies with 200 or more employees, all of which could lead by example by publishing their gender pay data.

Independent practitioners and future skills needs

“We call for government to allow tax deductibility for any kind of training undertaken by the self-employed and allow tax deductibility for any kind of training for small businesses.”

Around 13% of CIPR members (including me) are independent practitioners. This is a more technical issue and calls for a change in HMRC rules so that the self-employed can make all training tax deductible. Currently the rule says that training to “refresh existing expertise” is deductible, but training “intended to give someone completely new expertise” is not deductible. Given the increase in the number of self-employed (not just in PR) and the fact that people might have several different careers throughout their life this is something that needs addressing.

Lobbying

“We call for government to actively support the development of high professional standards and accountability in lobbying, and work with the profession to build stronger institutions that can regulate the ethical conduct of lobbyists, supporting and maintaining the voluntary codes of conduct.”

Lobbying is a vital part of the democratic process that helps create better, more informed legislation. However, this is only true if it is conducted in an ethical manner with an enforced voluntary code of conduct. I also believed the ability to lobby also shouldn’t be restricted and that every trade union, charity, NGO, business etc should have the opportunity to lobby and have their voices heard so that legislation is as effective as it can possibly be. The recent lobbying legislation introduced by the coalition government fails on all accounts.

Data protection

“We call for government to think beyond the scope of current EU Data Protection Law and lead a national conversation about how we can develop a coherent and satisfactory framework for responding to emerging technology and address the rapid changes in the market for data.”

Internet governance and broadband

“We call for government to build support for a multi-stakeholder approach to internet governance, and pledge greater investment in the UK’s critical digital infrastructure.”

Disclaimer: I’m an elected member of the national CIPR council, but wasn’t involved in drafting the manifesto. I also derive some of the my income from PR training some of which is delivered via the CIPR.