Donate one per cent of profit to help PR's ethnic diversity: Edelman and others join new scheme

Edelman UK is among the first PR agencies to join a scheme in which firms can donate one per cent of net profit to a charitable fund to help more people from minority ethnic backgrounds get into comms.

Taylor Bennett CEO Melissa Lawrence: "Diversity has moved at a glacial pace for many years, but now is the time to speed up the pace of change'

PrettyGreen, Ready10 and the PR Network are also founding partner agencies of the OnePercent initiative, which launches today. Money raised will go to the Taylor Bennett Foundation, the charity that encourages people from BME backgrounds to pursue a communications career.

Agencies can sign up to be a supporter, where they need to enable their staff to make charitable donations through Charitable Giving – a system of giving money to charity without paying tax on it, via PAYE from wages. Staff will be asked to donate one per cent of their wages, although there's no compulsion to do so.

Agencies can also become a partner, which means this year they need to contribute an initial £500 and enable Charitable Giving through payroll. In the future they will have two options: matching employee donations, or donating one per cent of net profit. Edelman has said it will take the employee match funding route.

Starting in January, a board of trustees will be appointed to determine how the money raised will be prioritised. Plans include expanding Taylor Bennett’s PR Training and Summer Stars programmes, and providing funding via pre-entry training bursaries or access grants.

OnePercent is co-founded by Mike Levaggi, EMEA consumer comms lead at Snap, and journalist Lela London.

Levaggi, who worked with PRWeek on the recent investigation into ethnicity and gender pay gaps at PR agencies, said: “It is time for those that have benefited from this privilege and who think that is wrong – people like me – to do more. If we want to make change, then all people who think equality should be a right, and that racism and discrimination are wrong, need to do more, not just those who face discrimination. We need to stand up and take action to make a change.

"This initiative will support both entry and continued progression for PR staff from ethnically diverse backgrounds, and it will continue to fund the brilliant work from the Taylor Bennett Foundation. It will also, crucially, give agency staff who want to support diversity in our industry a really easy way to do so.

"This is a call to action. We hope every agency in the country will get on board and allow their staff to donate through Charitable Giving.”

London said: "It felt like every person, in every industry, wanted to do something to support diversity and inclusion last year, but many struggled to understand what they could do. We wanted to create a 'what' that was simple, powerful and long-term. OnePercent is exactly that. Donating one per cent of your salary may feel small to an individual, but it's incredibly significant as a collective."

Taylor Bennett chief executive Melissa Lawrence said: "Taylor Bennett Foundation is proud to be a partner of the OnePercent initiative and I'm incredibly excited to see the impact it's going to have on the people it supports and the PR industry overall. Diversity has moved at a glacial pace for many years, but now is the time to speed up the pace of change."

Agencies say…

Sat Dayal, executive director and co-head of UK DE&I at Edelman, said: “It has been incredible to see the level of positive action to increase ethnic diversity across our industry, particularly over recent years. We all know there is still much work to do, and our individual efforts and company-wide commitments remain a priority. At the same time, this model of collective action inspired by OnePercent will be a catalyst for change for many years to come.”

Pretty Green group managing director Sarah Henderson said: "We are proud to be a founding partner of OnePercent. It's a brilliantly simple idea that gives all individuals at the PrettyGreen Group the opportunity to take action and give something back. We would love to see all agencies get behind this initiative and unite in the ambition to have an inclusive and diverse PR industry."

PR Network founding partner Nicky Regazzoni said: "To create a more ethnically diverse industry, we need to get more people in at the start – and keep them there until they reach the top. PRCA and PRWeek data shows change has been glacial. To speed it up, the Taylor Bennett Foundation needs funding, for which it relies on the generosity and patronage of a small number of individuals and firms.

"Rather than asking a few people to give a lot, the beauty of OnePercent is that it works on the opposite principle. The financial ask is set low to be affordable for many people working in PR, depending on circumstances. However, if enough employers and employees sign up it could create enough funding to make a huge difference. There’s been a lot of talk and genuine good intentions about diversity, and now it’s time for us all to put our money where our mouths are."

Ready10 founder David Fraser said: “We are long-term supporters of the Taylor Bennett Foundation and have been since Ready10 was formed five years ago. We have had several of its brilliant alumni join our team over the years and we know how valuable the charity’s work is and how it provides a vital platform and support structure for young people seeking to get into the industry. Its work is needed now more than ever and we are really proud to be part of this scheme.”

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