Women in PR/PRWeek Mentoring Programme – apply now for biggest scheme yet

Mentee applications are now open for the Women in PR and PRWeek Mentoring Programme. Significant changes this year include the scheme being 100 per cent digital amid the coronavirus lockdown.

Some of the mentors (clockwise from top left): Sarah Scholefield, Sarah Samee, Ali Jeremy and David Holdstock
Some of the mentors (clockwise from top left): Sarah Scholefield, Sarah Samee, Ali Jeremy and David Holdstock

The 2020 scheme brings the addition of male mentors for the first time. And this year five mentee positions will be allocated to Welsh members of Women in PR Cymru.

Twenty five mentee positions are available in total for 2020 – making it the biggest scheme to date.

Now in its seventh year, the scheme aims to empower women to climb the PR ladder and take prominent leadership roles within the industry.

Each chosen PR professional will be matched with a mentor – an experienced PR figure – who will offer guidance. Click on the link below to apply today and scroll down for details of on list of mentors.

apply for the women in pr/PRWeek mentoring programme

Click on the above link to fill out an application for the programme today. 

Since its launch in 2014, 75 ambitious women from a range of backgrounds have benefitted from being mentees in the programme.

The 2020 iteration of the scheme comes as new research for PRWeek's UK Top 150 Consultancies project found that the gender balance on PR agency boards on average now marginally favours women, albeit with some caveats – click here for more details.

Women in PR vice-president Sarah Samee – a mentee on the scheme in 2015 and a mentor this year – said: “Recent figures from PRWeek reveal there has been a small increase in females at board-level. Although any increase can be seen as a step in the right direction, this is only in PR agencies willing to be open about the make-up of their boards. With 64 per cent of employees being female, even with a 50 per cent split at board level this isn't representative of the industry.

"The figures further demonstrate that we still have a long way to go to achieve genuine gender equality at senior levels in our industry. Therefore, the need for career guidance, support and advice has never been more important than it is today, which is why Women in PR has increased the size and scope of our flagship mentoring programme. We've introduced a new digital format and some incredible new mentors on this year’s panel, spanning a diverse range of sectors, in-house and consultancy, all of whom are leaders in their fields.

“We firmly believe that male changemakers, who share our values, play a critical role in improving diversity and equality in the industry. Last year we introduced male ambassadors to the organisation and we are now, for the first time, including some male leaders as mentors on the scheme. Through ‘reverse mentoring’, these mentors will deepen their understanding of the challenges, and sometimes negative experiences, many women in our industry have faced and our hope is that they will use this insight to make changes within their own organisations.

“The current adversity and changes to the way we live and work has presented us with the opportunity to innovate the programme further by introducing a new digital format, which not only safeguards the wellbeing of participants, but also increases accessibility and removes any perceived regional barriers. In this respect, we hope to welcome a larger and even more diverse group of mentees than ever before.”

Rachel Moss, Women in PR Cymru co-president, said: “It’s great to see the mentoring scheme going from strength to strength each year. The Women in PR network in Wales is vibrant and to be able to support our members in this way, with focused support from some of the very best talent in the industry, is just priceless.”

How it works

The 2020 Mentoring Programme will be 100 per cent digital, with meetings conducted over video link or phone. All associated events will also go ahead in a virtual space, with a 'meet the mentors' event taking place on 20 May.

The deadline for applications is 12 June 2020. The application questionnaire is available here.

Following a rigorous judging process conducted by the Mentoring Board (which includes previous mentors, mentees, the Women in PR Committee and PRWeek), final-stage candidates will be invited for a telephone interview before being offered a place in the programme and paired with a mentor.

Women in PR is piloting the participation of male mentors this year, and mentees will have a choice whether they wish to be mentored by a man or prefer a female mentor. Women in PR will gauge the impact and response before deciding whether male mentors will become an ongoing part of the annual scheme.

The Mentoring Programme lasts for 12 months starting in August 2020 and involves three full mentoring sessions plus ad hoc discretionary support.

The 2020/21 criteria for entry are:

  • Leadership potential (demonstrable experience to date; a leader of the future).
  • Clear objectives for career (and how access to a mentor will help her get there, including helping to overcome any perceived obstacles).
  • Industry engagement (demonstrable effort to engage in key issues and effect change – for example, being an active member of a trade body, or helping/driving new initiatives to help improve our industry).

2020 mentors

  • Amanda Allan, head of brand, British Airways
  • Rachel Bell, chairman, The Academy Media Group
  • Graz Belli, co-founder, Third City
  • Gay Collins, founding partner, Montfort Communications
  • Misha Dhanak, former founder and chief executive, The Romans
  • Asad Dhunna, founder, The Unmistakables
  • Seb Dilleyston, joint managing director, Hope&Glory
  • Victoria Ford, director, Perago Wales
  • Rachel Friend, senior business leader and communications consultant
  • Nicola Green, director of corporate affairs, O2
  • David Holdstock, director of communications, LGA
  • Molly Hooper Aldridge, former global chief executive and co-founder, M&C Saatchi PR
  • Ali Jeremy, director of communications and engagement, The Royal Parks
  • Ronke Lawal, founder, Ariatu PR
  • Annabel Lloyd, freelance consultant
  • Michele Moore Duhen, senior PR manager, Capgemini
  • Emily Morgan, managing director, consumer, The Red Consultancy
  • Ginny Paton, managing partner, Iris
  • Tanya Ridd, director of communications, international, Snap Inc.
  • Sarah Samee, group head of external communications, Lloyd's Register
  • Sarah Scholefield, UK and Europe chief executive, Grayling
  • Vicki Spencer-Francis, managing director, Cowshed
  • Paul Stephenson, partner, Hanbury Strategy
  • Jennifer Thomas, director of internal communications, Direct Line
  • Tom Willetts, head of media relations, Prudential

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