'I never knew that being black and a woman would be such a barrier to getting into PR'

Tamsin*, 25, from north west London is black British. She studied marketing and media communications at the University of East London before seeking her first job in the industry.


"I’ve always had a knack for creativity and fashion, and PR was the first career path I stumbled across that appeared to deliver both. My perception was that the sky’s the limit. I never knew that being black and a woman would be such a battle I would encounter as an adult.

Read the full article: Diversity in PR: Industry struggling to arrest 'achingly slow' progress

"After graduating, I was [attending interviews] for 18 months. I would always get interviewed. They knew I could do the job but when they got to that last stage, where they decide whether it’s the right fit, that’s where I would always lose out. Because I have an English-sounding name, I got the feeling in some interviews that I was not the person they thought they would be meeting.

"I worked at several agencies and in-house roles before working for an online fashion portal. During my probation period, I was given a review and they highlighted a grammatical error in my work and told me that the company employed ‘educated people’. They seemed to be implying that I was not educated.

"Sometimes, we would be working with a celebrity I had never heard of and on one occasion I asked who they were, to be told ‘she doesn’t do hip-hop or urban or anything you would know’. I thought, ‘okay...’ Before my probation was up, I was called in and told that it was not working out and that I was not the right fit for the company. They said they didn’t think I was happy or enjoying my job and that I had not mingled with the rest of the team. In fact, I had been out with several of them for lunch. It felt like they were coming up with excuses.

"It did feel wrong there after a while. It felt demeaning, toxic and claustrophobic. I felt I experienced discrimination there. I was a black PR girl for a company that idolised Valentino and I don’t think they wanted that.

"I’ve gone freelance now because I’m good at my job and I know what I want to do. I don’t want to deal with people questioning me or putting me down, based on who they think I am – and whether they value it or not – or on my skin colour or ethnicity. It should just be based on whether my work is valuable and that’s it."

*The interviewee’s name was changed to protect her identity

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in