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Action on diversity in PR

This year Taylor Bennett Foundation, which encourage black and minority ethnic (BAME) graduates to pursue a career in communications, celebrates its 10th anniversary. In that time over 175 black and minority ethnic graduates have been through our PR traineeship programme.

We’ve had seven sponsors during that decade, who give significant time and money to the cause; Brunswick, Finsbury, FTI Consulting, Edelman, The Red Consultancy, Talk PR and MHP Communications.

Over 150 PR agencies and in-house comms teams have hosted three-hour visits to show our trainees what life in PR is actually like, including Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street.

Over 50 PR practitioners have been guest speakers.

PR agency Golin came on board to mentor our trainees once they leave our programme to support them as they head off into working life. Both the PRCA and CIPR support us – the PRCA offers free training to the graduates and the CIPR donate office space for us to hold assessment days. Over 700 graduates have been through those assessments and have all received useful, detailed feedback to help them with their job searches.

This year we were named as diversity best practice in the McGregor-Smith report on race in the workplace.

It’s tough to get onto the 10-week traineeship programme. It’s enormously competitive and once they’re on it, it doesn’t get any easier. We work the graduates really hard and they are ready for a career in communications at the end of it.

Over 95% of our alumni are employed, 70% of them in PR and communications roles.

Some graduates leave us and move on to PR internships, but increasingly the vast majority go into full-time roles. Our alumni are employed at a range of PR agencies and communications teams in-house and it’s an impressive list with some companies hiring more than one graduate. FTI Consulting has seven, Finsbury has four, Brunswick, Golin, Battenhall and The Red Consultancy have three each. Two alumni have launched their own agencies, Strikevoice Communications and Yellow Melon PR.

Because we only train six graduates per programme and run four programmes each year our reach is limited, so at the end of last year we launched our mentoring programme to help an additional 100 graduates every year. We’re now on the hunt for more PR mentors to help us achieve that.

We know there is appetite from the PR industry to address the lack of ethnic diversity and to help more BAME candidates into comms roles. We need to raise £50,000 this year to secure the future of the Foundation, expand beyond London and support our alumni as they progress in their careers.

The work of Taylor Bennett Foundation is proof that action can be taken to address the lack of diversity at entry-level in any industry. It takes time, money and commitment from that industry to achieve it, but it gets results.

Article written by Sarah Stimson, chief executive of Taylor Bennett Foundation

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