I have resigned Don’t Cry Wolf from the PRCA. Alongside this, I have resigned from my role as the Chair of the Misinformation in the Climate Crisis group and as a Fellow.
I have also requested that our award submissions from the upcoming PRCA Awards and shortlisting be pulled. Finally, I’ve removed our support for the newly created Sustainability Award, which we co-authored and sponsored.
Well, in April I formally complained about the increasingly erratic actions and decisions of the Director General, Francis Ingham. I went ‘on the record’ and clearly stated that I was comfortable sharing my concerns and complaint directly with Francis and the PRCA board.
I was specifically asked whether I would go on the record, as it was clear there were other complaints and concerns, but few were willing to put their name to them.
Of course, I agreed. I assumed a complaint of this nature would automatically be logged officially and immediately escalated.
The erratic actions continue. The rumours of poor behaviour persist. Those impacted by the weird chest beating from Francis regarding the awful conflict in Ukraine are still on the receiving end of threats and intimidation and have had their business and personal lives genuinely impacted. From what I understand, the PRCA has done little to support those individuals.
Anyone attending a major PRCA event over the last year will know that a big chunk of the event is taken up by hushed voices excitedly sharing their latest Francis story. Worn-out staff members try heroically to keep things on the straight and narrow. At the same time, an air of nervousness descends as we wait to see whether or not the Director General of the organisation will turn up and deliver another car crash speech.
And yet, it’s recently become clear that my initial concern and complaint have not even made it to the ears and eyes of board members, let alone been acted upon.
I am fairly confident that the PRCA does not have a governance system that allows for a complaint of this nature to be raised officially and for the efficacy of the Director General to be questioned.
A trade association without internal governance – but with an Ethics Council working group that sets out best practice for the profession and a Professional Practices Committee that has the power to expel members that breach the PRCA Professional Charter?
It’s sad because I’ve enjoyed and am proud of some of the work I’ve done with the PRCA. The staff are good people who want to do good for the industry, and I believe they are browbeaten, bruised and isolated due to an oppressive structure.
A word on Francis. I think he made some strong calls in the past, supported Don’t Cry Wolf, and welcomed the changes I wanted to try and make around climate action, working on everything from revamping the Consultancy Management Standard (CMS) accreditation to the set-up of the Misinformation in the Climate Crisis group.
But he has become the story, causing damage to members, staff and the industry.
Plenty of people will chastise me for joining the PRCA in the first place and say that Francis always behaved in this way. It wasn’t my experience. But now it is, and so I have acted.
The PRCA also needs to act.
If change comes and a radical review of governance begins, we should embrace the progress.
But until then, I hope the staff at the PRCA get the support they need and that the other members reflect on whether they should remain part of something that is becoming toxic.
For now, we’re out.