When asked to be involved in the PR industry's first diversity and inclusion reverse mentoring scheme, I was intrigued and excited by the opportunity. Being a cohort of the Taylor Bennett Foundation, I’m always keen to do what I can to address the diversity challenges in the industry.

Now that the pilot scheme is complete, I believe the programme has opened doors to create and develop necessary conversations to help educate those in a position to make long-lasting changes within their agencies from the top down.

During the process, I partnered with Dan Gerrella, a PR and communication consultant specialising in property and construction. It was an interesting pairing as my understanding of property and construction PR was limited. However, the differences within our PR disciplines and expertise made the sessions more insightful and reflective.

Dan and I shared several stories and life experiences that allowed us to be honest and transparent with each other throughout the process. Learning from each other and dissecting the industry as we know it made the process enjoyable, eye-opening and noteworthy.

Dan’s commitment to making his agency inclusive for all helped him to focus on the fundamentals of what potential candidates would like to see from agencies. Investing his time and efforts in this allowed his agency to reinforce its drive for change. As a result, Dan and his team managed to employ two candidates from an ethnic minority background during the mentoring scheme which is an amazing testament to what the programme was designed to do.

I commend the Taylor Bennett Foundation and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) for rigorously selecting mentees committed to seeing a change in the industry and not solely as a tick box exercise. It was more evident when attending the in-person meet-up halfway through the programme. Being in a room with senior leaders and young PR talent and hearing about the progress made in such a short time made me understand why programmes like this are vital. 

Not only did I feel that the pilot was a success overall, but my experience in the programme, in particular, was enlightening. Working alongside Dan made me see how crucial the programme is to provoke actual change and is something that can easily have a domino effect in the industry.

The last ten months were a fruitful commitment, and I would encourage everyone in the PR industry to look into supporting this work to continue and flourish. The programme was enriching and empowering and introduced me to fresh perspectives that will have a lasting impact on my career.

Speaking with Dan after the programme, he said: “I really hope to see this programme continue and grow further, so more mentees can demonstrate their allyship and more mentors can share their experiences in the industry.  It is only by having candid, open and honest conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion that we will see change. 

“Speaking to Tariq and others on the scheme, it is obvious that there is still a long way to go. This has inspired a lot of work in my agency already and there will be more to follow in the coming months as we translate everything that we’ve learned during the programme into action.”

Tariq Peters