Snap shots can be very misleading and it is perhaps unfair to criticise public leaders for their identity. White middle class, middle aged (or older) men cannot help being so, I am one. However leaders of local Government and business partnerships are not supposed to be chosen for their naivety and failure to understand the messages that their presence can send out. In any event they rarely work alone and it is probable that the image above was taken at an event that included people with some level of PR knowledge. The image above was taken at a conference which “focused on the importance of London, Stansted and Cambridge as a globally significant innovation corridor, vital to the future of the UK’s growth economy”. It was intended to “assess the optimization of assets in linking the knowledge corridor, discuss coordination and delivery of cross boundary working and explore how innovation corridors work in the international landscape.” The men on this particular panel appear to be the leaders of local government across the area, although one of them, Peter Jones (far right) was the Leaders of East Sussex County Council and is now the Chair of the South East Local Economic Partnership, a partnership which covers East Sussex, Kent and Essex. However it is indicative that whilst Parliament is becoming gradually more diverse, that local Government and the SELEP top tier leaders are all men of a certain age, certain ethnicity and perhaps understandably in the context of a strategic partnership between business and local government, a certain social class. What is almost certainly the case is that these men are also members of one particular political party. Unless the people who select the leaders of local government (usually these people are themselves drawn from the same profile) start to think about the message that their choices send out, their combined take on innovation will continue to be bland and predictable. Let us send out a message that we want change, not for its own sake, but because innovation in all bodies depends on pushing people and structures out of their positions of comfort.
As two final notes, it is not particularly helpful seeing 5 people trying to sit at a table that was designed for 3 or 4 at most; The wide angle shot here suggests that the audience are also from a rather narrow demography!