LONDON — Manifest has become the first agency to retain full Blueprint status and Blurred has become the first agency to be promoted from ally to full Blueprint status, after both agencies re-applied for the diversity mark.

The Blueprint diversity mark aims to promote racial diversity in PR and communications. Awarded agencies sign up to a series of commitments aimed at encouraging diversity from training to boardroom, staff culture to recruitment and retention.

Manifest was the first agency to secure full Blueprint status when the diversity mark launched in June 2020 and has become the first to retain the status. Blurred was awarded Blueprint Ally status two years ago and has become the first organisation to be promoted from ally to full Blueprint status.

The agencies’ submissions were marked by an independent panel of judges: Henry Rowling (founder, Flying Cars innovation agency); Sasha Daly (advocacy and influencing consultant); and Nyree Connell (healthcare policy manager and Blueprint strategy advisor).

Both agencies were commended for tackling The Blueprint commitments and their approach to creating equitable workforces including tackling gender and ethnic pay gaps and recruiting, retaining and nurturing BME talent, especially at a senior level.

The judges said they were impressed with Manifest’s ongoing commitment to anti-racism and being a force for D&I good in the industry, as well as the agency’s work to promote D&I with clients including TikTok, Gousto and Tommee Tippee and its initiative to tackle the BME influencers’ pay gap.

Manifest partner and brand strategy director Julian Obubo (pictured) said: “The Blueprint Diversity mark has provided us with the necessary resources and guidelines needed to hold ourselves and our clients accountable so we can step up to become agents of change in our industries. We have benefited immensely from the training sessions and the chance to share learnings with other awardees.

Importantly, the mark has helped ease what in the past could be fraught and sensitive discussions around diversity and inclusion. Agencies looking to strengthen their internal capabilities and targets with respect to DEI should actively consider applying. We've still got a long way to go, but we are in a much stronger place after two years as Blueprint awardees.”

Strategic and creative advisory firm Blurred achieved full Blueprint status after rolling out a number of initiatives to promote D&I, including an intersectional approach to recruiting diverse talent and ambitious D&I targets that has led the agency to attract and retain diverse talent at all levels.

Blurred CEO and founder Nik Govier said: “Since we first applied in early 2020, so much has happened in the world, including an evolution in the expectations of businesses when it comes to driving DEI within and outside their own walls. There is still much to do, but The Blueprint has been fundamental in pushing our industry to be better. I know we’re better because of it.

“The process of applying is an important step, as you’re guided by the commitments. But it needs to be applied alongside a genuine desire to improve, and we’ve built on it with our own commitments to creating an environment in which every individual can thrive, be given equal opportunity, and feel they can be their true, best selves. We’re proud to continue to be part of the ever-growing cohort of Blueprinted businesses, and we recognise the journey is never over.”

Elizabeth Bananuka, the founder of BME PR Pros and Blueprinted CEO, said: “Two years ago when we launched The Blueprint, we could never have imagined what our first Blueprinted agencies, Manifest and Blurred, would do, create or achieve. Their re-applications for The Blueprint status are the stuff of D&I dreams. Bold, ambitious, transparent, strategic, creative, exciting results and data-driven stuff.

“From client work to workforce culture, the agencies are the greatest adverts for what a commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion can achieve and the advantages they can offer from clients to retention. We cannot thank them enough for their continued commitment to diversity and for rooting for talented BME PR and comms pros to get the careers they deserve.”

Since The Blueprint launched in 2020, it has been awarded to 12 agencies. The Blueprint for In-house and The Blueprint for Comms. Organisations were launched in May.

The deadline for the next round of agency applications is 1 September this year.