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Increasing the number of BAME people in PR and the Taylor Bennett Foundation

As someone with a BAME (Black, Asian and other non-white minority ethnic) background who attended many recruitment fairs while at university, I have always been aware of the under-representation of people from ethnic backgrounds in the PR industry.

The State of the Profession report by the CIPR revealed there was an alarming lack of ethnic diversity across all levels in the PR industry, with only 2% of respondents describing themselves as ‘Asian’ and 2% as ‘black’. This under-representation still prevails across the industry.

The Taylor Bennett solution

When asked about how I established my own career in PR, I always tell people about the amazing work of the Taylor Bennett Foundation – an invaluable, fast-track programme designed to help young people from BAME backgrounds develop a career in PR and communications.

Since Heather McGregor launched the Taylor Bennett Foundation in 2008, more than 170 graduates have come through the scheme – a 10-week training and mentoring programme, consisting of intense PR/comms training sessions and visits to several of London’s top agencies and in-house teams. Of those participants, more than 80% are now working in the communications industry and I’m glad to say I’m one of them.

On my Taylor Bennett assessment day, a couple of things struck me: first, nearly everyone in the room – competing for one of six places on the 10-week programme – was from a BAME background; second, despite the wide range of university degrees and qualifications between us, a common theme of our conversations that day was of being overlooked for jobs in the sector due to our nationality or background.

Fresh talent

The memory of that assessment day serves to highlight the importance of The Taylor Bennett Foundation. The scheme offers a vital opportunity for young people from BAME backgrounds to carve out a career in an industry that has historically been relatively inaccessible. During the scheme I visited several high-profile PR agencies, one of which was Battenhall.

During Battenhall’s five-year existence, three full-time staff members have been recruited from the Taylor Bennett Foundation, as well as an intern. The agency’s support of the Foundation continues today. Recently, Sam and I volunteered to sit in the assessor seats to help recruit the next generation of BAME students looking to pursue a career in PR. After gaining first-hand experience and knowledge of what is required to succeed in the traineeship, we consider this our way of giving back to a programme that’s changed our lives and provides an opportunity for us to see the next wave of talented people set to enter the PR industry.   

In addition, we host a visit to our agency for trainees from the Taylor Bennett Foundation to offer opportunities to unique and like-minded individuals with a passion for social media. Members of the team will provide an insight into our day-to-day duties, tips for recruitment in the PR industry and our business specialities.

Today, I feel privileged to be pursuing my career in the PR industry and owe so much to the Taylor Bennett Foundation. I hope that more people from BAME backgrounds capitalise on the opportunities the scheme offers and have the confidence to forge a career in this exciting sector.

Written by Mashaal Punja at communications agency Battenhall

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