BME 'reverse mentoring' scheme in comms launches

The CIPR and Taylor Bennett Foundation have launched what is billed as the industry's first 'reverse mentoring' scheme to give PR leaders insights into being a minority ethnic professional working in PR.

Mentoring launch (L to R): Avril Lee and Melissa Lawrence
Mentoring launch (L to R): Avril Lee and Melissa Lawrence

The scheme pairs 15 senior leaders – the mentees – with black, Asian and ethnic minority PR and comms professionals who all have between three and 10 years of experience in comms.

The aim is to help PR leaders understand the challenges and to showcase the importance of allyship and inclusive working cultures, and to encourage new ways of thinking about how their organisations approach diversity, equity and inclusion.

The pilot scheme will run for 10 months and is set to inform future initiatives and training.

The CIPR’s 'Race in PR' report from last year found that many PR professionals from ethnic communities face significant barriers to inclusion and career progression. Separate research for PRWeek's UK Top 150 Consultancies project found one in five UK PR agencies have no non-white employees at all.

Avril Lee, chair of the CIPR’s D&I Network and head of healthcare, Europe, at 3 Monkeys Zeno, said: “The PR industry has a diversity problem and at the heart of that challenge is the need to build inclusive cultures. We called on senior leaders to take responsibility for this and many have stepped up, but we know that, understandably, there is often a gap in understanding of experiences. We are hopeful that the programme will help to educate, and create conversations and relationships that inform actions and deliver lasting change so that more black, Asian and ethnic minority PRs have the opportunities to join, thrive and build successful careers in the industry.”

Melissa Lawrence, chief executive of Taylor Bennett Foundation, said: “The mentors are all excited to be part of this scheme – we see it as a great opportunity to have conversations that perhaps otherwise wouldn’t be had for fear of saying the wrong thing or feeling unsure about how to approach a certain topic. As part of broader industry initiatives, we hope this will help the industry move forward.”

First mentors

Frances Abebreseh, communications manager, Netflix

Ashwinder Bedi, campaign manager, Babel PR

Tom Hunt, senior associate, Purpose Union

Melissa Jumbo, communications lead, Mouro Capital

Deepak Kumar, press officer, Transport for London

Kuldeep Mehmi, PR manager, Savills

Hannah Mensah-Kane, account manager, Nexus Communications

Shanil Nayee, senior account manager, Harvard PR

Emmanuel Ofosu-Appiah, UK PR manager, Mercer

Esther Oluga, regional communications manager, Home Office

Tariq Peters, senior account executive, Four Communications

Ata Rahman, digital content office, Imperial College London

Nahidur Rahman, senior manager, DWF Group

Ester Russom, press officer, Euronext

Christine Tama, communications and PR freelancer

First mentees

Matt Appleby, independent strategic communications consultant

Shaun Bell, group account director, Stripe Communications

Juliet Cameron, COO, Launch

Tim Chatwin, vice-president communications and public affairs, Google EMEA

Tom Frackowiak, managing director, Cicero

Daniel Gerrella, associate director, Liz Male Consulting

Susie Hackett, international head of corporate communications

Susan Kinnear, director, Centre of Journalism and Public Communication, Cardiff University

Molly Neal, director of communications, brand and campaigns, National Grid

Jo Patterson, chief executive, 3 Monkeys Zeno

Sarah Pinch, managing director, Pinchpoint Communications

Brad Ryan, senior PR lead, ARUP

Kate Smith, practice director, Brands2Life

Vicki Spencer-Francis, managing director, Cowshed

Ben Verinder, founder and managing director, Chalkstream

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