Diversity in PR, Diversity and Inclusion, EAST VILLAGE PR

EAST VILLAGE. truly believes that the value of a business lies in its values as a business and that’s why we’re committed to helping tackle the issue of diversity in PR. Or, should we say, lack thereof. Above and beyond a CSR initiative or a one-off promise, we believe that a company should stand for something and live by it; building it into the fabric of its day-to-day actions.  That’s what the TeamEV Charter is; from diversity and inclusion to charitable commitments, this is about how we drive change in everything we do.

At EV., we pride ourselves on being conscientious and ethical individuals and working towards positive change as part and parcel of who we are. With that in mind, we want to make it official and ensure that, as a business, we hold ourselves – and each other – to account, with a specific focus on how we ensure better diversity in PR but also the industries in which we work. 

Putting these pledges into policy not only ensures that EAST VILLAGE. contributes positively to the communities that have supported us; we hope that it extends and pushes this to a new level, helping others beyond that too. This is about creating, protecting, and extending lasting opportunities, that incite change from today and every day thereafter.

In short, this is about EAST VILLAGE. being a business that not only has heart, but that wears it proudly on its sleeve.

Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

As an all-female team currently, you might look at our company make up and wonder where our commitment to diversity and inclusion lies… We are all too aware that the balance is not right just yet and we remain committed to ensuring that we encourage equality, diversity and inclusion among our workforce, and eliminate unlawful discrimination.

As a PR and marketing agency, which is responsible for communicating to a range of audiences on behalf of clients and ourselves, we know the importance of having diverse thoughts, opinions and experiences brought to the table. The aim is for our workforce to be truly representative of all sections of society and our customers, and for each member of the team to feel respected and valued, as well as able to give their best at work. This is why diversity in PR, and across all industries, is so important.

Even though our team has many things in common, we are also different in a variety of ways, so we recognise that a ‘one-size-fits all’ approach to managing people does not achieve fairness and equality of opportunity for everyone. Not only do we commit to following UK legislation on standards in this area, but we actively seek to go beyond this minimum expectation to protect our workforce of both today and the future. We want to recognise the actual and potential value of our people and ensure our policies work towards making our practices bias free.

Beyond our own team, we also want to ensure that the businesses we work with and the causes we support have strong and ethical commitments to diversity and inclusion. This applies not only to those that we work with, or volunteer our time with; this includes the brands that we support in our everyday lives too.

To further instil this in our team, EAST VILLAGE. has started its internal ‘Small Change’ fund: budgeting for a set allowance every year for each team member, they are given free rein to spend their pot on whatever they like. The only things we ask are that the money supports businesses or community groups from BAME or other underrepresented demographics, and that they use the EAST VILLAGE. platform to review, promote, or amplify them after. We hope that through ‘Small Change’ we encourage the entire team to become conscientious consumers, using their own power for positive change in a lasting and sustainable way.

Pro-bono work for charitable causes and community work

Charity is about more than a one-off good deed. As a founding director of homeless charity Let’s Feed Brum, which Tara and Hattie are both trustees of too, EAST VILLAGE. knows first-hand how impactful sustained support for causes can be. Not only do we actively encourage our team to advocate for, volunteer with, and donate to charities that they are passionate about – we create the space and time on our client list for causes that need PR and communications services, in order to reach new audiences and amplify their message.

On average, EAST VILLAGE. commits 100 days a year – around 8 days each month – to assisting with and delivering PR and marketing work for charities such as iShelter (Tabor House), Let’s Feed Brum, and SIFA Fireside; completely free of charge.

We pledge to continue donating –time, money and expertise – to causes that need our support.

Providing the national living wage and extending our Grow Your Own internship programme

We believe strongly in knowing your worth, and whilst money is only part of this, it would be remiss of us to pretend that it isn’t important. As such, we commit to paying over the statutory national living wage for all members of our team, regardless of age, which is an issue often flagged as a reason for a lack of diversity in PR.

In line with this, we are extending and improving our existing ‘Grow Your Own’ internship programme to ensure that this is accessible and sustainable. To do this, we will be offering a limited number of three-month placements, which will offer applicants a salary, travel and expenses paid for, and training opportunities with accredited providers. What’s more, to address the findings from RTM that only 9% of those working in PR industry identify as BAME, we want to use these internship opportunities to directly address the talent pipeline by prioritising them for candidates from underrepresented communities.

Furthermore, our team members commit themselves to seeking mentoring and speaking opportunities, to support the learning of those from underrepresented groups. Determined to extend the knowledge and understanding of what a career in PR and marketing consists of and help wherever we can those who otherwise might not have pursued it onto the career ladder, we know the importance of remembering that you cannot be what you cannot see.

We know that we cannot stand silently and wait for those in minority groups to ask for opportunities; we must make the opportunities visible, accessible, and welcoming, and be vocal in promoting the importance of diversity in PR.

Working alongside ethical brands and business owners

EAST VILLAGE. works with a range of clients, suppliers, and partners, and we’re strong believers in the power of collaboration. Founded on the principles of bringing people together, EV.’s mission has always been to unite clients that complement each other and bring cohesion through connections to boost business for everyone.

With this in mind, we recognise that we have a commitment to ensuring that the businesses – and the owners behind them – that we work with reflect the same values that we do. We know that this is about learning as much as it is about leading but we pledge to ensure that, to the best of our knowledge, the brands we align ourselves with reflect our own policies and promises; that we’re working with eco-friendly and sustainable PR clients, who focus on diversity and inclusion, and give back to their communities.

Ensuring employee wellbeing

A key pillar of the EAST VILLAGE. way of working centres around wellness. In fast-paced agency life, we know first-hand the pressures that surround servicing multiple clients and the strain that staying ahead of the curve can take. That’s why it’s so important to us that we support our team to make mental health and wellbeing a priority.

Having introduced flexible working for the entire team back in the spring of 2019, we actively encourage each person to work in the way that suits them. From the early risers making time to take care of family in the evenings; or later starters using mornings for gym classes (or a lie-in!), we empower our employees to take control of their time, trusting them to manage it in the way that works best. This, in itself, really is a key way to introduce more diversity into the PR industry.

We also know the toll that the digital world we operate in can take – particularly when working from home – so each day we ask every team member to take their own #TeamEVTimeOut. This is an hour away from their laptop and their phone for them to use as they wish without any distraction. Whether that’s used for exercise, socialising, crafts, or a nap – this serves as a daily reminder that work/life balance is vital.

Further to this, we rally against the model of having a set numbers of ‘mental health days’. We know that these cannot be laid-out and determined pre-emptively, so instead we enable each person to take the time they need, as and when they need it. With figures showing that burnout is on the rise, accompanied by both stress and anxiety, we believe that this open discourse around mental health and the de-stigmatisation of taking time to reset and recharge is truly the most effective way of getting our team the support they need.

 

The #TeamEV Charter is one that we hope will inspire, instil, and ingrain long-lasting positive policies, in the way that we as a business can be proud of. We hope this Charter enables our team members, our clients, and our communities hold us to account and that we can use it to further the ethical impact we have as a company each day. We will continue to spend time listening and learning from the experiences of others to build on this and ensure that we are always pushing to be better for those around us, and prioritising diversity in PR. 

For EAST VILLAGE., and the team that so proudly stands behind it, this is about longevity and legacy; leaving each day at least a little better than it started. This is only the beginning.