The PR industry still has a lot of work to do to improve ethnic diversity. In fact, I remember writing blogs about how far the industry is from where it needs to be when I did the Taylor Bennett Foundation’s training programme nearly four years ago. 

While I appreciate that radical change won’t happen overnight, it seems that it’s still happening at an alarmingly slow pace.

So I was delighted to have the opportunity to take part in the Taylor Bennett Foundation and CIPR’s first ever reverse mentoring programme to help leaders in our industry make a real difference.

I have previously worked with clients in other industries who have reverse mentoring programmes and only heard positive things. Often that’s because decision-makers would not otherwise have the time to speak with junior professionals about lived experiences at work, despite holding the pen on how people are hired and how they progress through a company. Providing a voice for ethnic minority PR pros to speak openly and honestly about these issues is vital to help change the way of thinking at the top.

I was impressed with the Taylor Bennett Foundation’s “matchmaking” progress for the programme. At the last meetup, it seemed that mentors were paired with leaders working in similar industries or similarly sized companies. I found that made it easier to relate to some of the challenges my mentee’s organisation is facing. I was equally impressed by just how easy it was to break the ice so my mentee and I could be open about what can be quite serious and emotional issues. 

There are plenty of learnings from the programme. Developing a structure for each meeting across the year made it easier to ensure we were not repeating the same conversations. Being flexible so as to navigate busy diaries was of utmost importance. I’m sure that learnings from all mentees will be taken on board and fed back to next year’s cohort so the programme is even better and more valuable.

I would fully recommend both ethnic minority PR pros and senior leaders in our industry to take part in this programme in future. It will help to ensure that our voices are heard by the people who will ultimately shape progress towards better ethnic diversity in the industry in the coming years.

Tom Hunt