Creative Equals launches DisabledCreatives programme

The new programme sponsored by Diageo aims to support disabled and neurodivergent creatives into work


While the creative industry talks a good game when it comes to inclusion, the latest All In Campaign identified disability inclusion as a critical area in need of change.

According to All In data disabled talent is chronically underrepresented in the industry (9% versus 20% of the working age population) with 22% likely to leave their company compared to the industry average of 9%. To help combat this and support disabled and neurodivergent creatives, Creative Equals has launched a new initiative, DisabledCreatives.

DisabledCreatives is a programme designed to help disabled and neurodivergent creatives get into work. It will see 25 creatives take part in the first-of-its-kind programme, for free. The initiative has been designed in collaboration with expert partners - disability equality charity Scope, D&AD, Valuable 500 and ThisAbility Limited - and aims to equip disabled creatives with the tools, knowledge and confidence to help them secure full-time or freelance employment. 

The programme is being sponsored by Diageo and is open to disabled and neurodivergent people from across the UK who’ve previously worked as a creative or studied in the advertising, marketing and design industry. The programme is free for all participants and will run virtually from Monday 24 April through Friday 12 May, with the final day held in-person at a central London location. 

Shutting out disabled people from the industry is hugely consequential for both the individual and creative output. Quite frankly, the industry has not moved fast enough.

Ali Hanan, founder and CEO of Creative Equals

Across the three-week programme, the cohort will have the opportunity to work on a creative advertising brief provided by Diageo. The creatives will go on to present their ideas on the final day of the programme in London, where a winning pitch will be chosen.

As part of the initiative the disabled creatives will also meet mentors from partner agencies, attend sessions to get up to speed with industry trends and hear from key speakers about how to navigate today’s job market.

“There are more than 14.6 million disabled people in the UK - many of whom live with an invisible disability - and more than one in five of us will be affected by disability at some point in our lives. And yet, there is chronic underinvestment in disabled talent.” explained Ali Hanan, founder and CEO of Creative Equals.

She continued: “Shutting out disabled people from the industry is hugely consequential for both the individual and creative output. Quite frankly, the industry has not moved fast enough. But we do know there is potential for positive change and this year we’re moving the dial on disability with our first ever DisabledCreatives initiative.”

Sulaiman R. Khan, Founder and Chief Radical Officer of ThisAbility Limited, added: “After graduating in 2012, I was unable to get a job in the advertising industry and it took me over 3 years to get my first job due to ableism, accessibility, toxicity and the systems of oppression. In many ways, the ad industry in London still hasn’t changed and does not support Disabled creatives fully. That’s why it’s so fantastic that Creative Equals are launching their inaugural DisabledCreatives programme to support Disabled creatives into employment.

DisabledCreatives is the first open programme in the UK to target support for disabled talent in the industry and is an expansion of Creative Equals’ CreativeComeback initiative, that since 2019 has supported more than 140 people with 85% of participants going on to find employment. 

As the industry works toward better representation and inclusion so that creative work can better connect with audiences, initiatives such as this are imperative in helping creative talent find work and breaking down industry wide barriers.

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