Hope&Glory and Ketchum UK secure The Blueprint status

CCgroup, Cowshed and Harvard secure The Blueprint Ally status

Friday 5 February 2021 – News

Hope&Glory and Ketchum UK are the latest agencies to secure The Blueprint diversity mark and CCgroup, Cowshed and Harvard to secure Ally status.

The awards represent the most successful round of applications since the launch of the diversity mark in June 2020.

The Blueprint diversity mark aims to promote racial diversity in PR and communications. Awarded agencies sign up to a series of commitments aimed at encouraging diversity from work experience to boardroom.

Hope&Glory, Ketchum UK, CCgroup, Cowshed and Harvard secured the marks after completing a 40-question application form detailing their existing commitment to diversity. The applications were marked by an independent panel of judges: Henry Rowling (founder, Flying Cars innovation agency); Sasha Daly (Advocacy and Influencing Consultant); Olivia Danso (writer and Blueprint project manager) and Nyree Connell (healthcare policy manager and Blueprint strategy advisor).

In 2020 consumer brand and lifestyle agency Hope&Glory stepped up their commitment to D&I with an inspiring, impressive and innovative wide range of measures led by Co-Founder and Chief Client Officer, Jo Carr. Amongst other projects the agency: launched blind recruitment to remove bias from its hiring process; introduced compulsory unconscious bias training for all staff; broadened its supplier network to include smaller businesses; reviewed how it worked with influencers; launched special speaker series ‘Beyond Your Bubble’ showcasing diverse speakers and, to support the right to protest by offering paid time off to staff to support causes they’re passionate about. Aside from already supporting several organisations such as the Taylor Bennett Foundation, following a consultation with staff, Hope&Glory now provides pro bono support to Blueprint for All (formally the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust) and others. Crucially the agency held focus groups with colleagues from Black, Asian, mixed race and ethnic minority staff to understand areas for improvement and to temperature check new initiatives.

Ketchum UK, the largest organisation to secure The Blueprint, showed equal commitment and innovation to tackling diversity. In the last twelve months, the communications consultancy has launched a generous and impressive parental leave policy giving all staff six months’ full pay regardless of length of service (maternity, shared parental, adoption or surrogacy); relaunched its London’s Inclusion Council to drive progress in four areas including client discussions around D&I ; enhanced its ‘Friends of Ketchum UK’ D&I network to include internal and client-facing D&I workshops; partnered with Future Frontiers to provide a six-week career coaching programme with 30 students from lower income backgrounds and partnered with Ambitious about Autism to provide a three-month paid internship to a young person with autism.

The agency’s last audit of their policies and procedures by Creative Equals saw Ketchum UK promoted from Bronze to Silver, becoming the highest scoring organisation in the accreditation’s history. Particularly impressive was CEO UK Jo-ann Robertson’s commitment and involvement in D&I including voluntary work as Chair of the Young Women’s Trust, and Deputy MD of Consumer Alicia Solanki’s work as a mentor and emergence as an industry speaker on diversity issues.

CCgroup secured The Blueprint Ally status exciting judges with the speed of D&I progress the B2B tech PR and marketing consultancy has made in the space of 18 months. Armed with ambitious targets, the agency launched its diversity strategy in June 2019 focused on securing tangible measurable results. Since then, they’ve overhauled their recruitment process including job descriptions and recruitment partners and now only work with companies committed to delivering a 33% BME shortlist. The agency rolled out compulsory D&I training for all staff, unconscious bias training for hiring managers, ran workshops on trans issues and allyship, and set a target for 30% of training sessions to be delivered by a BME speaker and/or to cover a diversity issue. Committed to targets, CCgroup measures ethnic and gender pay gaps and factors them in pay reviews. Equally committed to accountability and transparency, the agency refreshed its employee handbook to include its diversity policy and created a client charter to incorporate its D&I commitments.

Cardiff-based Cowshed is the first Welsh organisation to secure an award. The integrated comms agency secured The Blueprint Ally status impressing judges with their bold commitment to diversity, inclusion and equality. The company is the only comms or creative agency in Wales to have signed up to the UN Global Compact and its Ten Principles on Human Rights, Labour, Environment and Anti-Corruption; provides pro bono work for Race Council Cymru; and are a certified autism aware business through Autism Wales. Cowshed’s far-reaching BAME Internship Programme, Wales’ first for comms and marketing, was recognised by the PRCA as the best internship in the UK and through its partnerships with recruiters, the agency ensures unsuccessful candidates are supported with free career advice. Committed to creating inclusive work, Cowshed produces content that meets WCAG accessibility standards, caption videos, and creates multilingual assets.

Tech PR and marketing agency Harvard’s D&I ambitions were positively impacted by the BLM movement encouraging the agency to take bolder decisive action on race and ethnicity. Following discussions with former Black, Asian, mixed race and ethnic colleagues and in partnership with current ones, the business put in place long-term programmes to maintain momentum and create lasting change. The broad range of measures falling under five tracks (People; Work & Clients; Structure & Policy; Knowledge and Harvard’s Voice) and in the last year the agency has transformed the way they recruit using app Hidden to remove bias in the hiring process; created a new client charter detailing expectations around diversity with clients; gathered the agency’s first set of D&I data to set targets; reported its gender pay gap; requested and collated D&I statements from suppliers and launched a comprehensive programme of activities with ex and current BME staff including leadership events, podcasts, blog series and social content. Particularly powerful, staff participated in a BAME to Boardroom ‘Race At Work Bohm Dialogue Programme’ in a bid to normalise ‘difficult’ conversations around race by enabling staff to share individual experiences and using the dialogue to drive action.

Elizabeth Bananuka, Founder, BME PR Pros; Founder/CEO Blueprinted, said: “In the midst of the BLM backlash, the latest round of Blueprinted organisations gave the judges and I something unexpected, hope. There was so much innovation, deep commitment, great leadership, bold targets, measurable results, transparency and accountability in their applications. We were left with a real sense that Hope&Glory, Ketchum UK, CCgroup, Cowshed and Harvard have done the hard work of looking at themselves, looking at the structural inequalities that may exist in their businesses and sought ways to make meaningful, measurable change that would support the recruitment, retention and promotion of Black, Asian, Mixed Race and Ethnic Minority pros.

Not all change will make great PR but I believe a lot of changes these organisations have made – far too many to name here – will make a positive difference to the working lives of the people they work with and, bit by bit, the industry. Congratulations to Hope&Glory and Ketchum UK for securing The Blueprint and CCgroup, Cowshed and Harvard for securing The Blueprint Ally status. It’s an honour to have the diversity mark associated with such great inspiring businesses doing good and important work.”

Jo Carr, Co-founder and Chief Client Officer, Hope&Glory said: “At Hope&Glory, we believe that if we’re to make a difference to the lives of our team – regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender – we need to firmly embed inclusivity in the culture of the business. That commitment isn’t about making lofty statements or token gestures, but about it being an integral part of who we are as individuals and as a business. We want an environment where people can bring their whole selves to work each day and don’t feel they have to be someone else when they cross the threshold of the agency. We are humbled to have been awarded full Blueprint status for our efforts so far, but also recognise this is not the end of a journey, but rather the start of living up to our commitment.”

Jo-ann Robertson, Partner and CEO UK, Ketchum UK said: “Being awarded The Blueprint is an important milestone for Ketchum UK UK as we seek to deepen our inclusive culture and build a truly diverse business. The Blueprint is recognition for the progress we have made, but more importantly it is a public declaration of our commitment to accelerate our progress for our people and our clients.”

Richard Fogg, CEO, CCgroup, said: “We committed to applying for the Blueprint when it was an ‘idea’ on the BME PR Pros website. We thought we’d be ready for the first intake – we were wrong. It’s hard. It forces you to re-evaluate everything. It forces you to be objective. It forces you to change – for the better. Now we’re a Blueprint Ally, the real work begins. But it’s great to be recognised as a PR agency in which people from diverse backgrounds can expect the fair, equitable treatment and opportunities they deserve. And it’s great to be in such wonderful company – it’s hard not to feel just a little more optimistic about the future of diversity in PR today.”

Vicki Spencer-Francis, Managing Director, Cowshed said: “We applied for Blueprint status, in part to gain recognition of what we have achieved at Cowshed. But in the main, our application is a statement of intent and commitment. Not only for the future of our team and how we do business here, but as a commitment to the part we will play in developing the industry.”

Ellie Thompson, MD PR & AR, Harvard, said: “Going through the Blueprint process has been an extremely rewarding experience for our agency. And it’s all part of a journey that we are genuinely excited and proud to be on. It’s about becoming a better agency – more welcoming, more inclusive and more diverse. That means every single one of us who works here striving to understand, talking about and addressing issues connected to race, diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We know that this is one part of our journey and not the destination and we’re excited to continue to change and evolve for the better.”

The Blueprint diversity mark has four application rounds a year with applications being judged by an independent panel who have taken part in a Blueprint diversity workshop. The deadline for the next round of agency applications is midday on Thursday 4 March 2021. Applications can be requested via the website.

The diversity mark, open to in-house teams from June 2021, is part of a series of initiatives to be rolled out by Blueprinted and BME PR Pros over the next two years aimed at promoting ethnic diversity in PR and comms.