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Breaking Down The Barriers Into Public Relations

Updated: Mar 29, 2023

Why is creative industry growth disproportionately benefiting the privileged? Are working class people behind held back from progressing within the PR industry? What are the barriers that are preventing the communications industry from becoming more diverse and inclusive?

Sarah Waddington CBE is a social mobility activist, chartered PR practitioner and a highly experienced management consultant, committed to breaking down the barriers into PR.

Sarah Waddington CBE

With over 20 years' experience in helping organisations to articulate their purpose, create value and deliver social impact, Sarah really is a pioneer of best practice. Her CBE was awarded in June 2021 for services to public relations and the voluntary sectors, and she has also been awarded the CIPR’s Sir Stephen Tallents Medal for exceptional achievement in PR.

A strong advocate of accountable leadership and women in business, Sarah is a Past CIPR President, a PRCA Fellow and strongly believes in helping young talent break through.

Sarah joins Second Mountain Comms' Ben Veal as the special guest for episode seven of Good Journeys with Second Mountain, the podcast series that explores the lives of inspired people and their inspiring stories.

Episode seven of the Good Journeys with Second Mountain podcast is out now.



"This is a passion project"

Launched during the pandemic in 2020, Socially Mobile is a not-for-profit PR school equipping the workforce of today for the challenges of tomorrow. Co-founded by Sarah alongside her husband Stephen Waddington, its purpose is to support and inspire public relations practitioners across the UK to increase their earning potential.

Sarah explains the origins behind the foundation of her Community Interest Company on the #GoodJourneysPod: "The concept came to me whilst I was still president of the CIPR ... it was really clear that [our profession] wasn't serving our ethnic-minority colleagues very well - there weren't many opportunities for them to progress - and we were not catering for working class people from lower socio-economic backgrounds. I was fascinated by this [and the idea of] creating an intervention ... I was fired up and determined that we had to do better, and if nobody else was going to do it then it would have to be me."

Socially Mobile delivers training to those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, as well as under-represented and under-served groups including ethnic minority practitioners, the LGBTQ+ community, women returners and those with disabilities. The CIC also provides support to those who have adversely affected financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.


"You shouldn't have to choose"

Sarah speaks passionately on the podcast about the impact that the cost of living crisis is currently having on many communications professionals - some of whom are having to make tough decisions about whether to continue onwards with their chosen career path.

"People are making some really difficult decisions right now; you can see them having to make choices about childcare and reduction in working hours. You shouldn't have to choose between working full time and your kids ... but I do have sympathy for bosses following the pandemic ... these are challenging circumstances for everyone. Socially Mobile is a private intervention to deal with the fact that we need to be more diverse and inclusive as an industry."


"It's what keeps me ticking"

"Our personal relationship developed from our working one," says Sarah on her relationship with husband Stephen Waddington, whom she has recently joined in business as co-director of professional advisory firm WADDS INC.

The decision came following having time, during the pandemic, to think and reassess her future: "I was ready for a change ... I always advise people to remember what they're passionate about; you do more and you get more rewards if it's something that you love, and you should follow your passions if you get the opportunity to."

It's clear that this latest career move is just the next chapter in what has been a prolific professional journey for Sarah to date, one that is grounded in curiosity and a desire to never stop improving and evolving: "I sometimes wonder what is wrong with me" quips Sarah. "Always learning is what keeps me ticking; I want to be as good as I can possibly be and I want to pass that on."

Episode 7 of the Good Journeys with Second Mountain podcast is out now.

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Good Journeys with Second Mountain podcast

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