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It is on every single one of us not to be bystanders to the biggest threat to equality in our generation, writes Ali Hanan, Founder and CEO of Creative Equals.
2021 was a precious year for Creative Equals’ flagship conference RISE. But RISE is about more than just one day; it is an ongoing movement to accelerate the pace of change in creative leadership each and every day. There is no denying that 2020 was an exhausting year for many of us, but the need for urgent change is palpable as lockdown lifts. It’s time to make our voices heard as we rebuild and repair. So as you all hit ‘End’ on Zoom, hold onto the belief and the importance of RISE’s mantra: ‘inclusion first’.
Our sector is no different. In the first lockdown, we saw restructures where young multi-racial and ethnic talent, LGBTQIA+ and mothers were on the frontline of job cuts. In a crisis, all too often people retrench to ‘who they know’. The wisdom and much needed mentoring skills of older people across our industry was painfully overlooked. When people are reduced to a line item on a spreadsheet - a cost centre rather than a person - we all lose out.
As Sky reported: ‘The cost of being laid off is high for older workers. Six months after losing their jobs, just 62% of over-50s had returned to employment, compared to nearly three-quarters of those in younger age groups. Over-50s face the largest pay cuts, a 9.5% fall in hourly pay compared to what they were earning before they were made unemployed.’
We know women have borne the brunt of this crisis; with working mothers paying the price of motherhood penalty. With TUC data showing seven out of ten women were denied furlough; women were faced with little choice but to resign in the face of a simply impossible task. Women spent on average 62 hours a week caring for children (compared to 36 hours for men).
The number of female creative directors has crept backwards. This year, 17% of creative directors are women (18% in 2020); 0.7% are Black women; we have zero Muslim women in our data set, though we know one women at a creative director level from our 30 Future Leaders list with Campaign Magazine. This is simply not enough. It is on all of us to be more intersectional in our approach to inclusivity.
Our message to women in the industry is clear; we see you keep going; this is our time.Ali Hanan, founder and CEO, Creative Equals
The data spells out the devastating impact of not making inclusion a business priority. Creative women’s careers stall mid-ladder, where they don’t get access to the same opportunities as their male peers. Almost a quarter of women are less likely to agree with the statement 'work is fairly allocated within the department'. When it comes to flexible working, they are 22% less likely to be happy with the flexible working policy their company provides and are 18% less likely to agree with the statement 'my portfolio is gaining work I am proud of'.
So what are we going to do about it? Transform. Now. With our ‘Inclusive Communication Reviews’, we see our collective blindspots around the globe. When you understand 24% of the global population is of the Islamic faith, it’s business insanity not to have any female Muslim representation within your adverts or your teams. Given that 27% of purchasing decisions are made by women over 50, it makes commercial sense to centre their stories in your work. Yes, 20% of us will gain a disability as we get older (including me) where is any disabled representation at your creative table? We see the direct correlation: if they’re not in the team, they’re not seen in the work.
This year, 17% of creative directors are women (18% in 2020); 0.7% are Black women. 0.0% are Muslim women. This is 2021. All of us have to 100% committed to an intersectional in our approach to inclusivity.Ali Hanan, founder and CEO, Creative Equals
There are green shoots. This year, we have a growing crew of role models and changemakers in our industry. This year, we’ve seen promotions like Jade Tomlin, now Group Creative Director at AKQA, Franki Goodwin, now Executive Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi, Carole Davids, now Group Creative Director at Vice Virtue, and Laura Jordan Bambach, President, and Chief Creative Officer at Grey London, with Nicky Bullard, Chairwoman at MRM Europe on MRM’s Board. We need more. Now.
So, our message to women in the industry is clear; we see you; keep going; this is our time. As we move forwards into this post-Covid-19 world, let’s reset ‘inclusion first’. Think this when you next hire, give out a brief, make a promotion, set your hybrid working policy, or cast your next shoot.
The truth is it is on every single one of us not to be bystanders to the biggest threat to equality in our generation. Speak up, step forward, hold each other up; we RISE together.
This article first appeared in Creative Equals’ RISE trend report, created by Creativebrief. This free trend report wraps up key insights and learnings from the Creative Equals RISE 2021 conference.To download it please click here
Creative Equals started as a side hustle by the award-winning Creative Director Ali Hanan in 2015. Throughout her 20+ year career, she'd seen the impact of the lack of diversity within the industry, and set up Creative Equals as the change we need to see in the wider creative and tech sector.
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