'Making PR anti-racist' - PRWeek spotlights BME comms pros in special edition

PRWeek UK is taking an in-depth look at BME issues, initiatives and voices associated with our industry for a special edition of the magazine this month.

Guest editors: Jennifer Ogunleye and Julian Obubo (Credit: Colin Stout/PRWeek/Haymarket)
Guest editors: Jennifer Ogunleye and Julian Obubo (Credit: Colin Stout/PRWeek/Haymarket)

The theme of the edition is "making PR anti-racist". Readers are encouraged to engage with the articles and conversations on social media using #PRWeekBME.

We have recruited two guest editors: Jennifer Ogunleye, tech PR lead at KPMG; and Julian Obubo, partner at Manifest.

The duo, both former members of PRWeek UK's 30 Under 30 and both of African heritage, have helped steer the coverage, which will be published online over the next couple of weeks and in print later in September.

Coverage starts today with a profile of Chuka Umunna, the prominent ex-MP who has joined Edelman to head its environmental, social, governance consultancy offer.

In the days to come, we'll be publishing articles looking at the origins of racism against non-white PR professionals – speaking to academics, social scientists, and university course leaders among others.

MORE FROM THE BME SPECIAL EDITION:

• 'I’ve started a new chapter and I don’t want to go back' - Chuka Umunna on Edelman, ESG, purpose and politics

• PR at university: 'We must become the BME role models we lack’
• The roots of racism at work – is discrimination today a legacy of slavery?
• 'Humour is a powerful tool for persuading people' - Grilled with Ayesha Hazarika
• 'Being different is an advantage' - BME Comms Stars: Preena Gadher, Riot Communications

We talk to BME comms professionals about how racism manifests itself in the PR industry and how it might be combated. This includes a 'for and against' look at the issue of affirmative action.

There will be interviews with senior industry figures including Elizabeth Bananuka of BME PR Pros and The Blue Print and Melissa Lawrence of Taylor Bennett Foundation. We also put the two biggest trade bodies - the PRCA and the CIPR - on the spot about their efforts to tackle discrimination.

PR employers that have made progress in addressing the issues will also be spotlighted.

Throughout the next couple of weeks we'll also be hearing from a number of BME comms professionals who have achieved great things in their fields via a series of individual 'Q&A' profiles.

All the columnists in the September edition are from BME backgrounds.

Ogunleye said: “PRWeek is arguably the most prominent platform for the PR industry, so it is hugely significant to see the magazine give visibility to the lived experiences of microaggressions, prejudice and racism towards those of BME heritage as well as celebrating our expertise and achievements.

“Since the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, I have heard, read and vocalised feelings on matters of racial inequality for the Black workforce, in more frank terms than ever before in my career. This is not something that we can or should turn away from if we are going to make this a more inclusive industry.

“I hope this edition supports and inspires the next generation of diverse talent and allies eager to make meaningful change within their organisations.”

Obubo added: "This summer would hopefully serve as an inflection point in the global conversation around combatting racism. For the first time I feel cautiously optimistic that the slogans, social media posts and protests will translate into real changes and make tangible differences in the lives of Black people and all those who have been historically marginalised.

"With this special edition, we want to showcase the brilliant BME talent working in PR in the UK today and also give PRWeek readers a thorough grounding in the social history of race and racism in this country. I believe we cannot begin to fix the issues we have today if we are unaware or unclear about their origins."

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