The agency has achieved "The Blueprint" status, meaning it has signed up to 23 commitments - on topics from recruitment to working culture - aimed at promoting ethnic diversity from work experience to board level.
The Blueprint, from BME PR Pros founder Elizabeth Bananuka, launches today with news that two other agencies - Blurred and InFusion Comms - have been awarded "Ally" status.
The agencies completed a 40-question application form detailing their existing commitment to diversity. They must secure more than 70 points to secure Ally status and 101 to reach The Blueprint status.
Applications were marked by an independent panel of judges: Henry Rowling (founder, Flying Cars innovation agency); Sasha Daly (advocacy and influencing consultant); Olivia Danso (writer and Blueprint project manager) and Nyree Connell (healthcare policy manager and Blueprint strategy advisor).
The Blueprint status must be renewed every two years and can be removed if organisations are considered in breach of its terms.
Agencies pay to apply and income generated will be used to support the work of BME PR Pros, including upcoming leadership scheme The Xec. and #CareerHack, aimed at 18 to 25-year olds from ethnic minority backgrounds keen to enter the sector.
The Blueprint diversity mark will be administered and managed by Blueprinted, a business for purpose led by Bananuka with a black, mixed race and Asian team in place. It is part of a series of initiatives to be rolled out by Blueprinted and BME PR Pros over the next two years aimed at promoting ethnic diversity in PR and comms.
The Blueprint launch coincides with a new research report published by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) that highlights how ethnic minority pros lack opportunities and face unfair treatment compared to their white colleagues.
Calls for the industry to do more to promote racial diversity in the sector have grown in recent weeks as the Black Lives Matter protests focused attention on the treatment of non-white people in society in general.
Bananuka said: “To create meaningful change requires meaningful action and an investment of time and resources, developing The Blueprint diversity mark required both with more than 40 professionals feeding in over an 18-month period. They leaned into the uncomfortable and worked together to develop a framework for change that we believe will enable talented black, Asian, mixed race and ethnic minority pros to get the careers they deserve in organisations that will value them.
"The Blueprint diversity mark isn’t here to pander to those that have just realised Black Lives Matter but to shine a light on those committed to ethnic diversity from entry level to boardroom. I cannot think of a better recipient of the first Blueprint status than Manifest nor of the first Blueprint Ally status than Blurred and InFusion Comms. I hope many more in the sector do as they do and stop talking about diversity and start doing something about it.”
Julian Obubo, brand strategy director at Manifest London, said: “What our industry desperately needs is a heavy dose of accountability in order to upend the dismal record around diversity and inclusion. The Blueprint diversity mark is a much-needed step to encourage and facilitate high standards and responsibility. We are pleased to have attained full mark status and we consider this a stepping stone to motivate us to work harder to be more accountable to ourselves and our industry.”
There are four Blueprint application rounds per year and the deadline for the next one is Thursday 3 September. Applications can be made via the website. The cost is based on the agency's income and there's a 50 per cent discount for the first round of open applications.
The scheme is to be available for in-house teams from 2021.
Blueprinted is also launching On Point, a series of webinars for comms pros that value diversity and more than one type of customer. Upcoming webinars include a review of Pride comms by Virgin Media’s Dev Mistry; a session on nurturing young talent by Red Havas’ Claire Quansah and a workshop entitled "Muslims: the audience brands can’t afford to ignore", by creative duo Arif Miah and Ala Uddin of Mud Orange.
PRWeek has partnered with BME PR Pros on the BME Mentoring Scheme for the past three years.
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