For decades, the creative industry has been dominated by white men, who have been afforded the opportunities to rise up to the highly coveted position of creative director. But why is this? This article looks into why so many creative directors in the fashion business remain white men, and what can be done to change the status quo.
1. The Creative Director: A Dominantly White Male Profession?
One of the most notable dichotomies in the advertising industry is the way in which the creative director profession is dominated by white males. This stands in stark contrast to the increasingly diverse teams that agencies are striving to foster. Women, specifically, are still vastly underrepresented in certain aspects of advertising, particularly in the upper echelons of the creative department.
It is important to consider the ways in which inclusion is fostered in the workplace. Companies benefit greatly when diverse voices are represented in the decision-making processes. Here are some ways to better promote an equitable creative landscape:
- Ensuring gender diversity in the hiring process for managerial positions.
- Providing professional training and long-term career development opportunities
- Creating an inclusive workspace with language, behavior, and creative output
- Encouraging collaborative processes, especially for projects with an all-white team
Agencies should think strategically about how to create an environment that respects and promotes the voices of all its members. This, in turn, will not only push the industry forward but lead to better creative work and, consequently, better business outcomes.
2. Unpacking the Reasons Behind the Lack of Diversity
Organisations often struggle to be more inclusive and diverse, and it’s important to identify the source of the problem. Without understanding the reasons behind the lack of diversity within a workplace, we can’t find solutions to the issue.
There are several factors that can account for the dearth of diversity. To begin, there may be structural issues that have resulted in a largely homogeneous workforce. This might include succession planning that has allowed certain groups to monopolise positions of power, or recruitment processes that select from a narrow pool of potential candidates. Unconscious bias can also lead to a limited range of hires being considered, along with a general preference for people with a similar backgrounds.
Furthermore, some subtle, yet devastatingly impactful, external influences could be at play such as:
- Acculturation, where members of minority groups want to blend in with the majority culture,
- Stereotyping, where certain roles are assumed to be ‘reserved’ for a certain type of individual,
- Prejudiced hiring, where employers actively seek people who fit a predetermined mould.
These hurdles make it difficult for organisations to promote diversity and for members of minority groups to progress in their careers.
3. Rewriting the Rulebook: How to Achieve Greater Representation
Organizations can make strides towards greater representation by taking a critical look at existing systems and doing away with outdated practices. It is key to have policies that address power imbalances, racism and bigotry, give members of marginalized communities an equal voice, and promote allyship. Here are a few steps organizations can take to create a more equitable future:
- Run unconscious bias and anti-oppression trainings: Sometimes, the biggest barrier to achieving greater representation lies within our own biases and stereotypes. To create a welcoming and equitable environment, organizations can commit to educating staff and members on unconscious bias, challenge stereotypes, and promote inclusivity.
- Foster an atmosphere of cultural respect and appreciation: To create a workplace that respects different backgrounds, organizations should create opportunies to foster awareness and celebration. This could include hosting cultural education days, virtual gatherings, and panels about equitable representation in the workplace.
- Promote allyship: Organisations can also cultivate an inclusive space through open communication, story-sharing, and allyship. Allowing team members to come together to discuss experiences encourages connection, growth, and a supportive community.
Not only do these steps ensure greater representation in the workplace, but they also serve as a way to build inclusive and sustainable communities. By putting these actions into practice, organizations can ensure a future filled with equity, intersectionality, and belonging for all.
It’s clear that the lack of diversity among creative directors needs to be addressed. With more open conversations and initiatives, we can move past outdated trends and begin to create an environment where everyone has equal representation. Only then will we experience true creativity and a better-balanced art and creative industry.