How are you? No, really, how are you? It was said a lot at the start of lockdown as the Covid-19 pandemic hit. At that moment we saw the best of human nature with people genuinely concerned for the welfare of people they met. We got to know our neighbours, and all joined on the Thursday 8pm clap for carers. We checked on those who were shielding to ensure they had food, medicine, and other necessities. Amid the terrible events we saw the best from lots of people.
What now? The reality of the financial situation is slowly being revealed. The unemployment rates are starting to rise, and many are struggling. To get through this we need to continue to pull together, look out for each other and work to continue the support that we saw months ago. But I worry this is not going to be the case. Growing up in the 1980s I saw some of the worst from human behaviour. The ‘greed is good’ and ‘look after No1’ attitudes. Will we see that come through now?
Even in the world of communication I am concerned about the way the ‘how are you’ is making way for ‘I am doing great’. In an increasingly challenging marketplace, there can be a survival of the fittest mentality.
For most of my working life I have been in very macho environments. I say macho rather than male because the traits they encouraged could be seen in everyone. I found that being strong, tough, no-nonsense were what was needed to survive and possibly thrive. It is only now that I can see how I adapted my behaviour to fit in with what I thought was required.
I fear there is a growing macho culture in communication. We are losing the empathy to make way for a brash, loud, and hard approach. Vulnerability is out and hard drinking, hard talking is in. This will be easily supported by what appears to be a re-emergence of the ‘old boys’ network’. Put it together and it becomes a toxic mix.
We have already seen the State of PR report from the CIPR show that as professionals we are becoming out of touch with the wider public and do not have a diverse workforce. This macho approach, seen from both men and women, is going to make the situation worse as we will be excluding many, many people. The language we use, the way we behave and what we do are all being watched. There are students, young people and those interested in a career in communication who all view what happens in the industry and form opinions based upon it.
In the coming months, the situation both financial and medical may become more challenging but I hope to see the best from the PR and communication industry. I am finally becoming more comfortable with being vulnerable and am not prepared to go back to the harsh macho behaviour of the past to try and fit in.