Over seventy people joined us to celebrate the launch of People of Creativity. Together we enjoyed an evening dedicated to connecting, celebrating and highlighting work from creatives of colour. Our first ever event featured contributions from the following speakers:
Mevan Babakar — Founder, Who’s In
DIVERSE TEAMS CREATE THE BEST PRODUCTS
We believe that harnessing different opinions, experiences and perspectives is key to creative work. We listened to the personal and professional journeys of four creatives, followed by a Q&A session afterwards in which they answered questions on their careers and experience.
Each had different adversities to face, and they described how they met with these to reach success within their respective field.
FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY!
One recurring theme of the night was that creatives and founders early in their career can be held back by fear of failure. Khalia, founder of Jamii, explained that it took her over a year to develop an adequate structure for launch, she attributes this extended time span to fear of getting it ‘wrong’. Daniel echoed this, but added that the digital age means that, even though fear might hold us back, we do have ready access to anything we need to learn.
ADAPTATION IS A STRENGTH
Michael went on to explain that his experience in the creative industry was slightly different. He acknowledged his experience of privilege, as a male, but described how being a person of colour meant many hurdles to cross. In his previous years, he found adaptation was essential. Michael, alongside many other creatives of colour, shares the feeling that they are seen as a representation of their entire community, and therefore feel the impact of societal pressures to fit in weigh heavy alongside the duty to be an individual representative of a minority group
VISIBLE, VIABLE ROLE MODELS
Mevan, a refugee from Iraq, recently won 10K to create her own start up, Who’s In. Mevan stressed the importance of positive role models — people from under-represented backgrounds make up only a small percentage of most creative agencies, with even fewer, if any, visible in senior or leadership positions. Michael seconded the importance of role models, referencing the recent achievements made by people of colour demonstrating excellence at the Olympics expressing hope that this encourages young people to take up a sport.
We want to look not only at issues but solutions. So we began asking questions, sparking simple conversations about why most creative agencies have not yet been able to build ethnically diverse workforces.
We noticed a pattern: Lack of awareness emerged repeatedly as the key reason. This lack of awareness existed on both sides — employer and potential employee:
- Hiring culture — No awareness of the work created by underrepresented people
- URG have minimal direction and few role models
- URG have little idea about the existing agencies out there
- URG might be unaware of how their preexisting skills could be put to use or what technical skills they’d need to make it into the industry
- Or even, the fact that the industry exists!