LONDON — The Xec, the first leadership scheme for UK-based Black, Asian, mixed race and ethnic minority PR and communications professionals, is open for entries for its second year.

The scheme, developed by BME PR Pros founder Elizabeth Bananuka, is again supported by Google UK, and will be delivered in partnership with PRovoke Media and the CIPR, with the aim of creating the next generation of BME leaders and increasing boardroom diversity client and agency-side.

Launching the second year of the scheme, Bananuka said: “The Xec. is an exceptional course delivered by an incredible array of industry talent all committed to tackling diversity. A chance for talented BME PR and comms pros to learn from pros at the top of their game and to gain the skills needed to smash glass ceilings and progress up the career ladder. After a successful first year, I’m thrilled to see The Xec. back and bigger with more experts and more places for talented pros. I cannot thank our generous partners, tutors, presenters and mentors enough for rooting for talented BME PR and comms pros.”

Over 10 months, the practical course will include training days, masterclasses and talks delivered by a diverse range of industry leaders including creatives, communications directors and agency owners from organisations including Google UK, the Guardian, Blurred, Twitter, Diffusion PR, Fanclub PR, Riot Communications and Manifest.

The Xec. Class of 2023 will also be allocated a BME PR Pros mentor for six months; create and host a podcast series; be invited to judge a CIPR award; receive complimentary CIPR membership; and be given £5,000 to create and launch a group campaign.

The inaugural cohort, who are currently more than halfway through the course, includes Missive account director Whitney Simon (pictured), who said it has been a “career highlight”. She said: “I’ve had the opportunity to meet and hear from PR and comms titans spanning across agency and in-house who have truly helped me better understand myself as a PR practitioner and leader.

"But most importantly, this programme has helped me find a community of exceptional BAME PR and comms individuals, who understand the challenges of working in this industry as people of colour. I've spent so much of my career feeling like an outsider and thanks to Elizabeth and her team, as well as all of my fellow Xec. cohort members, that is no longer the case.”

At Google, vice president of EMEA Communications and Public Affairs Tim Chatwin said supporting the first year of The Xec. had been “an absolute privilege - they are an incredibly talented group.” He said Google UK was “excited to be continuing our partnership with BME PR Pros and I look forward to meeting the new group of leaders.”

On PRovoke Media’s continued support for the scheme, founder and chair Paul Holmes said: “There is no more pressing issue for our profession than increasing diversity and making sure that we attract, develop and retain the kind of talent that reflects our broader society. The fact that progress is finally being made on this score is down in large part to people like Elizabeth Bananuka and initiatives like this one, and we are delighted to play whatever small part we can in moving the PR world forward.”

And CIPR chief executive Alastair McCapra added:We were incredibly impressed with last year's cohort and are proud to be part of an offer to support tomorrow's leaders and improve diversity across the whole industry at all levels.”

The Xec. leadership scheme, which runs from September 2022 to June 2023, is free and there are 12 places available. Deadline for applications is Thursday 5 May 2022. To request an application pack visit:

Photo credit: John Ferguson