In January, alongside my colleagues Jeff Watt and Dafina Grapci-Penney, I hosted my first ever Greentarget masterclass on PR and communications with the Taylor Bennett Foundation. Traditionally, the world of PR has lacked diversity, and Greentarget hosted a masterclass with the goal to change that. By working with a charity that encourages black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) graduates to pursue a career in communications, we were able to meet with six young graduates to provide an insight into the world of financial and professional services PR, what Greentarget does as an agency, and which skills are crucial for young professionals entering the industry.
Statistics show that diversity in the workplace matters. In 2019, a McKinsey study on gender and cultural diversity showed that the greater the representation in the workplace, the higher the likelihood of outperformance. Despite the evident business imperative for increased representation, however, the PR industry has been slow to adapt. Now more than ever, in an economic climate where graduates will struggle to find jobs, I believe that it is important to create inclusive environments and opportunities for young people from underrepresented backgrounds to gain experience in the PR industry.
As a British-Chinese woman who is part of the first-generation in my family to attend university, I speak from experience when I say that the opportunities afforded to me in my early adult years by both social mobility charities and diversity schemes within the financial services industry have opened doors that would otherwise not have been available to me. Through insight days and mentorship programmes, I accumulated industry knowledge and crucial workplace skills that not only served me in my transition from university student to working as a trader at a global investment bank, but also to my current role as an Account Executive with Greentarget.
While it is undeniable and tragic that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted communities of colour in the UK, I hope that we can find a silver lining and seize the opportunity the pandemic presents to build new initiatives and increase accessibility to the PR industry. In many ways, the shift from in-person gatherings to virtual conference systems allows us to lower barriers and foster greater inclusion. The phrase ‘financial services industry’ is often synonymous with London when used in the UK, and the shift to remote learning is one means by which to increase diversity in talent pipelines. Hosting online learning opportunities removes the socioeconomic barrier that travelling to London presents (although of course, it is important to acknowledge that office visits themselves can be useful learning experiences!) and it was wonderful to meet graduates based around the UK at our masterclass.
I firmly believe that the best way to create a more diverse and equitable workforce within the PR industry is to create opportunities for underrepresented communities to gain experience. Looking ahead, Greentarget is committed in 2021 to advancing equality, promoting diversity and preventing discrimination. As a small agency, we have the luxury of being able to move fast on initiatives that excite us – if you’re at university or a young professional interested in learning more about PR and comms, keep an eye on this space as we will be posting resources and opportunities targeted at making PR a more inclusive industry.
If you are a student or young professional (female, BAME, LGBTQ+, low-income, first-generation or otherwise) interested in learning more, or you are at an organization interested in working with us to mentor junior talent, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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