Making progress – CCgroup’s DE&I journey

Are you familiar with the Blueprint? It’s a diversity mark for the PR and comms industry, launched back in 2020. It and exists to promote racial diversity in a predominately white industry. It brought something to the industry that was seriously lacking: a DE&I standard and structure to strive for, best practice and guidelines. We immediately embraced it, quite literally, building our talent strategy around it.

Agencies and (more recently) in-house teams go through a rigorous application process to be Blueprinted. In February 2021 we became ‘Blueprinted’, achieving Ally status.

Any Blueprinted agency has to go through that same rigorous application process, every two years. It’s critical to ensuring validity and credibility. At the end of last year, we completed the questionnaire and gathered folders full of policies, processes and evidence. All. The. Receipts. This is a really intense process, but one worth going through. And a process that’s critical to our DE&I work. Because it helps CCgroup be a place where everybody can thrive, regardless of their background.

Today, we’re thrilled to announce that we’ve not only retained our Blueprint status, but we’ve gone a step further. We’ve moved from ‘Ally’ status to full Blueprint status.

It means CCgroup has been recognised (again) as a place where people from diverse backgrounds can expect fair and equitable treatment. It sees us leaning even further into 23 commitments aimed at removing inequality and barriers to progression.

There’s been significant progress over the past two years, for us, as an agency. We’ve not only grown in size, but in diversity. We’ve moved from 28% BME employees at end 2021 to 39% BME at end 2022. We’ve made real moves over this period, from our making our recruitment and promotion policies even more objective, to how we manage and structure our socials. All of this work helps us attract and retain the best talent, which is an imperative for a business whose most valuable ‘asset’ is its people.

Diversity is an agenda point at CCgroup board meetings, every month. We measure ethnic and gender pay gaps and report against them quarterly. We don’t simply review this data but use it to inform our decisions and actions. Data is such an important part of DE&I work, my advice to any agency on the cusp of this work, is to always centre it. Track it, report on it and take action with it.

We only need to look at the make-up of the PR industry to recognise that the work is not done. At the imbalance of power and pay, when it comes to ethnicity and gender. The Blueprint is helping to change that.

For any in-house comms team, or agency considering applying for the Blueprint…. My advice is this – just do it. It’s an opportunity to turn a mirror on yourself, scrutinise what you might be doing, as a business, that’s excluding some people, or holding others back. If it feels scary, or uncomfortable, it’s time to let go of that fear and lean into the discomfort. Because true change requires vulnerability.

And last, but not least, being part of this community has been everything. To share with leaders from Blurred, Cirkle, Cowshed, Infusion, Harvard, Hope & Glory, Manifest, Pretty Green, Riot, Stronger Stories and more recently, Talker, Tailor, Trouble Maker about our work, progress and (most importantly) challenges, has been such an important part of the process. It’s broken-down barriers and removed competition in a way that’s made my collaborative, partner-based heart so very happy.

If you want to talk about what’s like to apply for the Blueprint, or anything DE&I-related at all – do get in touch. We won’t achieve equality as individuals, or lone businesses – but as a wider community and industry.

Written by Katie De Cozar


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