The Taylor Bennett Foundation (TBF) provides an intense ten-week training and mentoring scheme for talented graduates of black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds, who wish to pursue a career in public relations (PR).
A key area of focus is the fostering of connections of people working in the industry through the assignment of active PR professionals as mentors, and providing contexts where trainees can form relationships with a range of people working in the industry – from past alumni, to company directors.
In providing contexts where social capital can be generated, and offering training on how to maintain a network of industry contacts, the scheme addresses a gap in valuable connections that can be experienced by BME individuals. Research has found lower levels of social capital amongst ethnic minority jobseekers (Verhaeghe et al, 2015), which is a reflection of structural inequality (Hamm et al, 2013).
Social capital use is beneficial for finding a job (Granovetter, 1973), and for the development of human capital (Rainie and Wellman, 2012). In particular the fostering of a network of contacts, or acquaintances (‘weak ties’), provides individuals with access to unique information and opportunities in career (Lin, 1999), or organisational contexts (Burt, 2004).
The research project aims to evaluate the effectiveness of the training scheme (intervention) in mitigating structural disadvantage experienced by BME graduates. Specific areas for investigation within this are:
• analysis of levels of access to social resources pre and post-intervention
• qualitative analysis of importance of connections in entry to the PR industry
• comparison of training scheme alumni outcomes to control population of non-BME PR professionals and BME individuals with unsuccessful applications to scheme
• effect of structural disadvantage on utilisation of occupational networks.
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