Final year of university was an important time for me as I started to consider what my next steps would be. I was nervous about entering into the ‘real’ world and was completely unaware that PR and communications would be the career for me. Two years since graduating, I have got the opportunity to train with some of the most respected agencies in the industry and to develop in PR as a professional.
“The black and ethnic minority communities have many talented people who have not yet been discovered or given the opportunity.”
It has been during this period that I’ve seen the lack of ethnic diversity in the PR industry and it led me to review how I came to learn about PR. During my years of school, college and university I was never really aware of PR as a career. Often I associated PR with celebrities and never really knew that it was an industry that I could be part of. Through a brilliant opportunity to join the Citi bank public affairs team, I was exposed, for the first time, to the industry first hand. After sitting down with the Head of Public Affairs it was then I started to understand what PR was and how I could go about gaining access to this once closed industry.
My career choice even now, confuses many of my family members (especially my friends) and soon, I realised that the lack of knowledge of Public Relations is still apparent especially within black and ethnic minority communities. The PR industry that is seen as a broadly white and middle class industry often has been that way because many ethnic groups are unaware of this field as a possible career.
There is a significant lack of black and ethnic minorities in PR agencies across all sectors with only 8% of public relations practitioners identifying themselves as being from part of a non-white minority ethnic group, according to research from the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA). Many believe that PR practitioners from white backgrounds often know someone in the field or have a family friend who has a career in the industry and so are aware of PR as a career option.
“The industry still has a long way to go with raising awareness in ethnic communities, while pushing for further ethnic diversity in PR.”
So why is this issue important to address? There are a number of factors as to why it is important that there is ethnic diversity in the PR industry starting with talent. The black and ethnic minority communities have many talented people who have not yet been discovered or given the opportunity. Instead of fantastic talent going to waste, it is important that the industry continues to let this under represented group inside the PR doors. I got the chance to meet a successful black PR specialist named Rose Bambi; she was very inspiring having had an outstanding career in PR and owning her own agency before going on to sell it.
Rose Bambi represented a small number of black and ethnic minorities who have had amazing careers and gone onto achieve so much in a white dominated industry. The quote below is from an interview she recently did for PRcareers and shows the sheer determination she had facing the PR world:
“It was Oprah who has inspired me to believe that as a black woman I could succeed in a vocation that is still not well represented by people of black origin in the UK.”
The PR industry has greatly improved thanks to programmes like the Taylor Bennett Foundation, a programme that gives graduates from black and ethnic minorities the chance to train and network with PR professionals. The industry should continue to work together and with organisations like Taylor Bennett Foundation to source new talent, giving them the opportunity to get their foot in the PR world. Agencies should also be trained on how to go about sourcing talent from these communities and working with educational institutions to raise awareness of events such as career days. The industry still has a long way to go with raising awareness in ethnic communities, while pushing for further ethnic diversity in PR. It is great that at least there are positive organisations like the Taylor Bennett Foundation working with a number of agencies to initiate and implement change to the ever-growing industry.
(Image: Taylor Bennett Foundation trainees)