Tara Tomes,Managing Director, EAST VILLAGE.

Birmingham PR agency, EAST VILLAGE., has strengthened its commitment to driving diversity in PR with a newly revamped careers programme. Partnering with leading independent training provider, Creative Alliance, EAST VILLAGE.’s ‘Grow Your Own’ scheme will create new jobs for young unemployed people, ensure paid internships are offered to students, and see its team of professionals work alongside schools and careers advisers.

With a recent survey showing that the UK PR industry is lacking in diversity, made up of 91% white people, alongside the national unemployment rate reaching 5% in November 2020, career opportunities for young people are more important than ever. To play its part in closing these gaps, EAST VILLAGE. has relaunched its internship scheme to better suit the changing job market.

The new-look Grow Your Own will see the agency create new creative roles under the Government’s Kickstart scheme, which specifically targets 16-24 year olds on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment. Delivered alongside Creative Alliance, these roles will include a minimum six-month contract with EAST VILLAGE., as well as at least 60 hours’ training, a laptop, professional mentor, and its company-wide ‘team perks’, which include flexible working and mental health support.

“Kickstart is the ideal low risk scheme for companies to start to diversify their workforce. Government funding will pay the wages of unemployed young adults at National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week for six months. We’re delighted to be working with Tara and the team at EAST VILLAGE to create these opportunities for talented young adults who might not otherwise have had them,” comments Noel Dunne, Director at Creative Alliance.

These new roles will also sit alongside two- and four-week paid placements for college and university students; learning media relations, social media strategy, content creation, influencer marketing and, once restrictions are lifted, event management. Further to this, EAST VILLAGE. is committing six days per year per team member to deliver presentations, workshops and one-to-ones for school children, college and university students, and job seekers. The PR agency will also host a number of free online and in person workshops open to anyone looking to learn more about the PR and marketing industry.

Commenting on Grow Your Own, Founder and Managing Director Tara Tomes says:

“I’ve always had such incredible experiences and opportunities throughout my career so when I started EAST VILLAGE. seven years ago, I was determined to offer the same to other young professionals coming through the ranks. We started Grow Your Own as a way to do just that and, in the four years since launching it, over half of our full-time team members have joined following their internships. I want to do even more, and stats like the lack of diversity in PR have motivated me to accelerate how we positively impact young people and provide career paths for them.”

Tara is also a founding member of BPFS Black Leaders Network; a collective of professionals from across the business, professional and financial services sector in the West Midlands who share a commitment to educating organisations to improve their representation. Created by Joel Blake, founder of GFA Exchange and President of the Greater Birmingham Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce, fellow members also include Dr Karl George MBE (The Governance Forum, RACE Equality Code), Yetunde Dania (Trowers & Hamlin), Alex Tross (Lambert Smith Hampton), and Mac Alonge (The Equal Group), to name a few.

Last summer, EAST VILLAGE. announced that it was giving up its permanent office to embrace flexible working, to build on its commitment to being an agency for a modern workforce. In addition to flexi hours and home working, the PR agency also offers free counselling and therapy to all staff, in addition to a host of health, wellbeing and social benefits. This comes in addition to the launch of its TeamEV Charter in 2020, which acts as the blueprint for how the business focuses on diversity, inclusion, community, charity, and sustainability.

“I want to make PR and the wider creative industry accessible to people of any age, gender, sexual preference, ethnicity, cultural belief and background, which starts with removing as many barriers to entry as possible and ensuring that we offer both work experience and permanent roles to a wide talent pool. From removing minimum qualification requirements and offering flexible roles to fit in with parental and caring responsibilities; through to making considerations for physical and learning challenges, and accepting applicants with a previous criminal history: all of this can start to create more diversity in PR and I hope that we inspire more companies – of all sectors and sizes – to do the same!” concluded Tara.