A new university scholarship has been launched to encourage black, Asian, and minority ethnic talent into the events industry.

The REACH Event Scholarship has been launched in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) to provide a fund for students with the grades to carry out a BA (Hons) Event Management course but not the accessibility to funds to cover the estimated £5,000 per year living expenses. The initiative’s aim is to increase the number of black and brown students on the course from 16% to 25%.

The scholarship has been launched by an industry task force led by Robert Kenward, Event First Steps, and Diversity Ally. Some incredible companies have already stepped forward and shown that real change needs actions not words. The companies that have already pledged to donate are DRPG, The Hub, TRO, Smyle and Mash Media who are pledging £3 for every visitor to International Confex 2021.

Robert Kenward, founder of The Hub said: “Only 3.5%* of our industry is from a black background and only 6% are Asian. Although I have been a recruiter and an eventprof for over 21 years, I can count on two hands the number of black, Asian or minority ethnic event people I have worked with, and on one hand at a senior level.

“The initiative was created because I wanted to take action and actually achieve something that would have a lasting and tangible impact on our industry. The pandemic has already meant we have lost many event professionals who now see our industry as just too risky, so we need to act now to ensure that working in events is an attractive and accessible proposition for all young people. We are calling for companies to get on board and pledge £5,000 a year for three years. We need to have the funds in place by March 2022 so that MMU can award students looking to start their courses in September 2022.”

Kenward concludes: “We have launched this with MMU, but we will be rolling the REACH Scholarship out to other Universities too in the future.”

Gabby Austen-Brown, co-founder of Diversity Ally said: “It’s no secret I’m incredibly passionate about diversity and inclusion in events. My mission when I founded Diversity Ally was to help the industry become more diverse, inclusive and accessible. To change the industry for the next generation of event professionals, leaving a legacy of equality for all. The REACH scholarship initiative will help make the events industry more accessible to black and brown talent who might not normally have access to enter our sector, directly addressing the issue of the event industry talent pipeline. I’m so excited and very proud to be part of this initiative!”

Priya Narain, co-founder/director of Event First Steps, said: “Our core focus has always been about the next generation of event professionals entering the industry and ensuring that our pillars of access and route to the industry as well as the diversity of the industry are always at the forefront. The REACH scholarship is the perfect opportunity to practice what we preach and help create a more diverse industry from the grassroot level.”

Quote from mmu

Companies that are interested in making a positive and long-term impact to D&I in the industry can contact Gabby Austen-Brown (Gabby@DiversityAlly.co.uk) or Robert Kenward (Robert@YouSaS.co.uk) for more information.

Visitors to Confex can find out more at the Diversity Ally Stand: D22C

REACH is an acronym of Race Ethnicity And Cultural Heritage

*Figures from Fast Forward 15 / Leeds Beckett University

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