Blueprint – The conversation
Q1: Why should I apply for The Blueprint? Does diversity really matter?
Sorry – if you expect us to pitch the benefits of diversity to you, then you’ve come to the wrong place. The Blueprint is for people that already get it.
Q2: Wow. You’re really not going to butter us up, hey?
Q3: Okay, I get it. I’ve Googled it to death, read all the McKinsey reports and then some. So how do I apply for The Blueprint?
It’s simply three steps:
1. The application form
You complete an application form and submit it in time for the next deadline. There are four application deadlines a year and these are the dates for 2021:
midday on Thursday 4 March
midday on Thursday 3 June
midday on Thursday 2 September
midday on Thursday 2 December
2. The panel
All applications are submitted to a panel of five (a mix of Blueprint consultants and advisory board members). Each panel member will assign points to each answer you give. Get 70 to 100 points Congratulations, you get Blueprint Ally status. 101 to 136? Congrats, you’re Blueprinted!
3. The award
Once you’re awarded a status, you sign up to 23 commitments that we believe will help you attract, retain and nurture diverse talent. To help you put the commitments in place, we’ll provide you with an action plan, additional training and signpost some great resources.
Q4: Whoa! Simple yes, but I have a lot of questions.
Q5: Okay, well what if my organisation gets less than 70 points?
Q6: Wow. That’s harsh. How come?
Well, we think pretending to be committed to diversity just for PR or commercial purposes is harsher, but that’s a topic for another script… We want to protect the integrity of the Blueprint diversity mark. We want to ensure it goes to organisations genuinely committed to attracting, retaining and nurturing diverse talent. That is, organisations that already have the foundations in place – be it through their values, the work they do or existing systems and processes.
Q7: Okay, I get that you want people to be committed to diversity, but can I be direct?
Please do. We’re African so we actually prefer direct communication. Also, who has the time to read between the lines?
Q8: I certainly don’t! Well my agency isn’t that diverse and we’re not even based in a diverse area but we want to apply. Is that a problem?
The simple answer is “no”. It won’t be a barrier to you getting awarded a status or to you signing up to the commitments. The commitments aren’t just about ensuring your organisation is in the best position possible to attract, retain and nurture diverse talent, they’re also about ensuring you create and maintain positive work environments, work that speaks to diverse audiences and are about you using your consumer power to positively influence your suppliers.
We believe The Blueprint will be good for you, your colleagues (regardless of ethnic background), your work and the sector.
Q9: Sounds good, but going back to Black, Asian, Mixed Race and Ethnic Minority comms pros, how can an agency that doesn’t have open positions and with a low turnover still support them through The Blueprint?
Two great ways:
Firstly, by signing up to the commitments, they’re ensuring they have systems and processes in place to encourage diverse talent to apply for roles should they become available.
Secondly, money raised through The Blueprint will support the work of BME PR Pros ensuring initiatives are as accessible as possible. Through a series of programmes to be rolled out over the next two years, BME PR Pros aims to support Black, Asian, Mixed Race and Ethnic Minority professionals at every stage of their career.
Q10: That makes sense. Now about the commitments…
Q11: Not what I meant but no, they didn’t. They weren’t a real band. Going back to The Blueprint commitments.
Q12: Well, do we actually have to commit to them?
The award lasts for two years. After which your agency will need to re-apply. If you re-apply, we expect to see improvements in your score and evidence you have delivered on the commitments. If not? You risk losing your status.
Q13: But two people on an interview panel? A code of conduct? Inclusive cultures? Isn’t some of this excessive?
Not at all. And if you think so, well, spoiler alert: The Blueprint probably isn’t for you or your business.
The commitments aim to remove conscious and unconscious bias and barriers to progression. They aim to ensure Blueprinted organisations actively support, promote and encourage diversity and inclusion. The Blueprint mark is not for the passive. These are not commitments for the lip service brigade.
Q14: Okay, out of curiosity what if we are an agency with fairly bad practices but know how to spin a great application form? Or what if we want to pretend Black Lives Matter because it’s great PR? Who’s to know?
You’re right. We may not know, but your team and those you interact with are likely to, and that’s why we have an email address especially for whistle-blowers.
We know there is some great stuff going on in our sector but we know there is some truly appalling stuff going on too. That’s why we have an email address for whistle-blowers.
We don’t want the Blueprint mark to be associated with bad employment practices, bad management practices or bad work.
We respect this will put some organisations off and we’re cool with that. We understand The Blueprint isn’t for everyone. Hence why we encourage only the committed to apply.
Q15: Fair enough. How about the fees? Some businesses are going through a tough time right now and are facing a challenging future. Is this really a time to be launching a diversity initiative?
Yes, we recognise it’s a tough climate right now and we have worked as hard as possible to keep costs down. We’re also running a 50% discount for the first round of applications (deadline September 2020).
However, we are passionate about diversity and we don’t think diversity should only be a business concern when business is good.
Q16: What are the fees without the discount and will there be additional costs?
To apply for The Blueprint, agencies pay fees based on their annual income as well as a renewal fee after 12 months. The fees are:
- Income up to £1m = £625 (£62 renewal)
- £1m to £5m = £1250 (£125 renewal)
- £5m to £15m = £2500 (£250 renewal)
- £15m = £5000 (£500 renewal)
There will be additional fees for training and resources. We want agencies committed to diversity to be able to apply for The Blueprint, so our aim will always be to keep costs affordable.
Q17: Okay, but not all comms work takes place in agencies. What about organisations?
Good point! We’ll be rolling out The Blueprint for comms teams in 2021. There will be some tweaks, but the objectives will be the same: to attract, retain and nurture diverse talent.
Q18: This all seems well thought through.
Thank you, we like to think so.
Q19: I’d really like to get involved. Can I volunteer for you?
I’m afraid not. The Blueprint is delivered by Blueprinted, a company with purpose.
We have a full team in place who are paid to deliver different aspects of The Blueprint, as well as partners and suppliers.
We also have a couple of brilliant NEDS, a full advisory board and additional consultants.
Q20: Fine. How about a coffee sometime? I’d love the opportunity to find out more about The Blueprint.
Q21: What if I pulled a “don’t you know who I am?”? I am a pretty big deal in this industry.
Please don’t. It happens to us a lot and we find it kind of cringe. Mainly because you can’t really be about equality and diversity if you’re about hierarchy too.