"Trailblazer" FleishmanHillard Fishburn targets improvements after narrowly missing national equality benchmark

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FleishmanHillard Fishburn (FHF) has narrowly failed to meet a set of standards for its policies around equality after attempting to become the first UK PR agency to achieve the EY National Equality Standard pass mark.

Last year FHF bosses announced the firm planned to be "the most diverse and inclusive PR agency in London" and "for the work and the workforce to reflect the communities we serve".

The agency appointed the National Equality Standard to complete an audit of its diversity and inclusion process in 35 areas.

Practices included how it tracked and supported the careers of its talent to ensure everyone’s progress was fairly supported, to the role of the leadership team in creating an inclusive environment.

Staff were interviewed, policies and progress shared and a series of confidential focus groups were run to ensure what was being said by the leadership was being felt and experienced by those on the ground.

While the NES noted that the agency scored well in some areas, it did not meet the NES pass mark. It reached the mark on 33 of the 35 areas.

FHF was praised for its targeted training, and its focus on mental health and wellbeing. Areas where the agency needed to improve included how it collects and analyses data, the expectation it places on suppliers to demonstrate their commitment to diversity and inclusion, and to better articulate its business case across the agency.

"We were reassured to hear EY’s verdict that we’re doing well in terms of our policies and practices. We also performed well in terms of our focus on mental health and wellbeing. That said, the audit also highlighted areas we need to work on," said FHF deputy chief executive Ali Gee.

"We have until May next year to really address our weaknesses before being reassessed. I’d like us to be the first PR agency in the UK to be accredited, but we’re keeping our heads down and getting on with making the change real."

EY sustainable business manager Simon Manterfield added: "We’re delighted that FHF sought to partner with us in their mission to become the most diverse PR agency in London. The business is a trailblazer in becoming the first in its sector to undergo our National Equality Standard assessment and we’re supporting them with every step of their inclusion journey."

Both organisations will work on a roadmap to improve the areas to meet the NES criteria.

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