Diversity, inclusion and belonging: How and why I came to Milk & Honey
Growing up in a community where traditional career paths such as medicine and law were highly encouraged, I found there was never much guidance into exploring other opportunities. As a person who believes that knowledge is power, the growing influence of the media on our lives led to my interest in understanding the role that the media plays in shaping public opinion and behaviours. This desire to understand the different elements of how the media works, strongly influenced my decision to study media and communications at university.
Despite the conventional job options that come out of studying a media degree, such as journalism, advertising, and television, the one area of study that stood out to me the most was public relations. An area which seemed unheard of by many, sparked an interest in me. I was keen to understand the way in which PR professionals were able to control the uncontrollable.
After three years of studying the role of communications and the impact it has in today’s society, I went on to a master’s degree in media and public relations. Although the knowledge I gained helped me to understand the theoretical aspect of PR, I was now tasked with finding the best route into the industry. The celebration was short-lived as I was faced with what felt like a never-ending search in an extremely competitive graduate job market.
PR’s diversity problem
Discovering that the PR industry had a serious diversity problem left me feeling discouraged. The 2019 PR Census found the industry is 67% female, has an average age of 33, and is predominantly white British. Statistics that were unfortunately not surprising given the feedback from other graduates who were quick to mention the field was not as accommodating to those from my background. Therefore, it was important for me to find a company whose values aligned with mine.
After months of searching, I finally discovered Milk & Honey, a new kind of agency, one where people come first, and passion and creativity is at the heart of what we do. I found the values of respect, honesty, and collaboration were the foundation of the agency. It came as no surprise that they already had made an impact in a short period of time. Milk & Honey has taken diversity, inclusion, and belonging seriously from the very beginning, with a number of business practices in place to foster an environment of inclusion.
Although there is a lot of talk about the need to improve diversity and equality, not enough is being done to tackle it. However, working at Milk & Honey has given me the opportunity to see first-hand the power of an inclusive workplace. One where there is a genuine commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion. Seeing the team openly discuss and engage with issues such as gender and race inequality demonstrates how we remain true to our values by working to make sure what we do is right, not only for the agency but for the people around us.
Connecting 250 diverse individuals to PR careers by 2025
However, the industry we operate in continues to remain closed and unrepresentative of the population it serves. We have to do more to address this. This is why our goal is to connect with 250 diverse individuals to PR careers by 2025, and empower them to pursue careers in PR. That is diversity in terms of age, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, neurodiversity, and disability. We as a business aim to reflect this and make a conscious effort to reach these groups.
Going forward, we aim to boost the visibility of PR as a career option, not only for those who are graduates but extending to the younger, and older, demographics who are making career choices. We will work closely with schools and universities to guide those into PR and help to kick start their careers. We know increasing access, and the reputation of the industry is key to making it more diverse. We will use our team to offer mentoring to support access to careers every step of the way.
Reaching broader, more representative audiences is the first step to creating lasting change. We not only want to reach them but ensure as an industry we are keeping them and nurturing their careers so they can become the leaders of tomorrow. Overall, we as an agency believe a lot needs to be done to address diversity and we can’t do it alone. This is why we intend to work with bodies such as the PRCA to raise the standards across the board. And we are inviting our other agency friends to join us!
By Reggie Okehie