The launch of the BME PR Pros/PRWeek Mentoring Scheme was announced by PR Week UK earlier in January with the aim of promoting diversity in PR and increasing the number of PR professionals from ethnic minorities in top UK roles.
The scheme will see fifteen senior industry figures and rising stars, mentoring professionals from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds.
Winning applicants will be matched with mentors who are deemed to be the best fit for their particular circumstances, and they will get advice and guidance at meetings from April to September.
There’s still a lack of diversity in PR and Comms, especially at the top
We think this is great news for increasing diversity and inclusion in PR and communications.
The CIPR State of the Profession 2017 survey showed the number of practitioners with recruiting responsibilities who believe that ethnically diverse teams produce better campaigns rose by nearly ten per cent.
However, there is still an unacceptably low level of representation of people from ethnic minorities working in the UK’s PR industry, particularly in top roles. This has to change in 2018.
2017 showed why we need to increase the diversity of PR and Comms teams
2017 offered some startling examples of why PR and communications teams should be diverse and inclusive, and represent the communities they serve.
For example, Dove manufacturer Unilever was accused of running a racist marketing campaign by social media users who reacted angrily to a Facebook ad that appeared to show a black woman turn white after using Dove body wash.
Whilst it’s fair to say Dove didn’t mean to offend anyone, the brand publicly admitted that it was something they feel shouldn’t have happened.
Unilever CMO Keith Weed recently told The Drum: “It [the advert] did not represent the diversity of real beauty which is something Dove is passionate about and is core to our beliefs, and it should not have happened.
“We have removed the post and have not published any other related content. This should not have happened, and we are re-evaluating our internal processes for creating and approving content to prevent us making this type of mistake in future.
“We apologise deeply and sincerely for the offence that it has caused and do not condone any activity or imagery that insults any audience.”
Hopefully their re-evaluation of internal processes includes making sure that their communications teams and agencies are more diverse in future, which would have probably have prevented the mistake being made in the first place.
Hence the need for vital initiatives like the BME PR Pros/PRWeek Mentoring Scheme to help boost the careers of BME PR and communications practitioners in the UK.
The scheme is open to a wide pool of BMR PR and Comms pros
Any UK-based communications or public affairs professional from an ethnic minority background who was worked in the industry for at least six months can apply to be mentored.
The scheme has been designed to be solution-focused for professionals with a clear understanding of the support they need. They will be helped by mentors who include rising stars from in-house and agency backgrounds that can offer invaluable careers support and advice.
BME PR Pros founder Elizabeth Bananuka told PRWeek UK: “I’ve been fortunate enough to work with many great agencies and comms teams who genuinely value diversity and are keen to boost numbers of BME staff at all levels – from entry to leadership – and to cut low retention rates among this group,”.
She added: “The BME PR Pros/PRWeek Mentoring Scheme is about BME leaders and rising stars joining forces to promote diversity and support the careers of talented BME professionals keen to progress to the next stage of their careers – be it from account manager to account director, agency to in-house, MD to agency owner.”
You can apply now and move your career to the next level
You can find out more about the BME PR Pros/PRWeek Mentoring Scheme on the BME PR Pros website.
The deadline for entries is 5pm on Friday 16 February, so if you’re a BME PR or communications professional who wants to take the next step in your career we think you should apply today.