What are your thoughts of positive discrimination to ensure a diverse team? I am currently hiring creatives and I'm at odds...Any tips?

Scarlett Montanaro Creative Director
  • Art Director
  • Copywriter
  • Creative Director

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  • Raafaye Ali Illustrator~Designer~Creative
    Drawing on my own experience over the course of 6 years of applying to creative opportunities Ive had one internship which i'm very grateful for thanks to the shift program at D&AD and Design Bridge which is due to positive discrimination. I am pretty sure I have had some talent in those 6 years prior to getting on the shift program. Prior to this I applied to hundreds of opportunities the closest I ever came to one 3 years ago where they said I was too talented for the role. that was 1 interview out of 5 in over 6 years of applying to roles. I wish I was exaggerating.

    some other things to consider, University isn't feasible for many to build a portfolio with no guarantee at jobs and a huge amount of debt 10k per year plus cost of living etc. Do you know how many ethnic minorities other than international students were on my course in art school? it was just me. 

    Something I have written:

    https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/does-creative-success-mean-seeing-people/1578817
  • Raafaye Ali Illustrator~Designer~Creative
    Many ethnic minorities/diverse demographic never get the chance to do placements as it isn’t financially feasible for them to work for free to get that experience or meet the specifications in a job descriptions for internships where they are asked to be fluent in the entire adobe suite, I wonder if any one has pointed out the cost of adobe suite is no easy burden.

    As has been indicated by the governments own research case study where it shows ethnic minorities have to apply for around 60% more roles to be on an equal playing field as some one who is white. that stat from the government is pretty conservative in comparison to the other ones I've heard. (where people with a foreign name are far more likely ignored even if they hold the same qualifications experience) I imagine this is far higher in the creative industry with how competitive roles are.
  • Raafaye Ali Illustrator~Designer~Creative
    The reality is hiring people based on just ‘talent' in a city like London continues to upholds the institutional inequality in the creative industry. Every one says they hire based on talent but London is a city with 44% ethnic minorities and yet there is less then 3% of us in the creative industries. Does that mean ethnic minorities do not have enough ‘talent”?

    Stating positive discrimination shouldn't be @ the top of the agenda is concerning especially when u see the stats above there isn’t enough of it, this discussion has been had argued/debated over and over again hundreds of times and seems the outcomes hardly making a scratch let alone a dent in the creative industry. It indicates for us ethnic minorities who may read that as those who are ethnic/diverse do not hold what you constitute as talent. Talent in many regards is hiring people who have content in their portfolio/skillset that comes from placements, much of which can be learned during the job role/placements.
  • Hadrien Chatelet Creative Director
    100% yes, it will assure you to have a much stronger creative team with a deferrent point of view. A creative can learn new software or new skills but he/she can't learn to have a different view on a creative brief.
  • Scarlett Montanaro Creative Director
    Thank you all for your thoughts. It makes me feel personally better that everyone else seems to be struggling with this issue but also saddened to hear that it's happening everywhere. The fact we're all concerned and thinking about it is a very positive step
  • Ka-Lok Ho Brand Content Strategist — Consultant — Filmmaker
    [2/2]

    You can't target a diverse audience if your team lacks a diverse perspective.
    Sometimes you have to understand, that you just don't understand if you aren't part of a certain demographic.

    In the end I think I do agree with you that positive bias may be a temporary solution until we do edge closer to equality. Of course, in an ideal world the candidate would also be the most capable person for the role.
  • Ka-Lok Ho Brand Content Strategist — Consultant — Filmmaker
    [1/2]
    This is a topic I've been thinking a lot of lately, and you've already raised every point I have debated with others and myself.

    My personal beliefs and experience are almost at odds – I do believe that we should live in a meritocratic society and hire based on ability to do the job first, however as you've mentioned in your comment usually that means a similar class, race, age, sex of people that have an much more ample opportunity than perhaps a minority.

    On the other hand, I have been on a team of 40+ that spans in a team in the UK and US, where I was the only non-white face. I can list many stories where the team had arrived at an idea that did not line up with my experiences or resonate with me at all – and to put it bluntly, there was a lot of self congratulatory high-fiving, and for lack of a better term, circle-jerking. That is a clearly a result of lack of diversity.
  • Daniel Harvey Head of Product Design & Brand
    Diverse teams lead to better work. As a result I'm a firm believer in "positive bias" to fight the systematic racism, sexism, ageism, classism in much of the creative industries. Here at The Dots, we've built diversity into our platform by design from the onset. As a result we've been able to foster a community that's much more diverse than other professional networks.
  • Mari Therese McCallion Lead Graphic Designer
    Speaking from experience, we always hire for talent first, competency for the role and the demands that that will bring. We do take in to consideration the 'personality' of the team, the values the company have and whether we feel this person would work well within that culture. Would they disrupt (negatively) or would they bring something extra to the team - new ways of thinking? Diversity is a huge focus in our company in general and being within a capital city we are more likely to hire diverse. But we don't go in with that top of the agenda but we have ended up with diversity within the team. Some of your points have been brought up recently during some post-interview discussions so I'll be interested to see how this progresses.
  • Scarlett Montanaro Creative Director
    I haven't defined any boxes to tick. I just want people who have had different life experiences because the people who work in our agency right now have had pretty similar ones. But oftentimes, the new people I am seeking have had a different life experience due to that fact that they're of a different class, race, religion, sexual identity etc.
    If I look for talent and nothing else - I end up with people who have been given ample opportunity to prove themselves. If not, I find myself positively discriminating - which i personally have no problem with until we achieve equality.
    I was mainly interested in finding out if other people are approaching talent hiring in the same ways and if they're experiencing the same things. And if so, how have they dealt with it.
  • Matthew Perchard Social Creative
    Define diverse. Are you wanting people that think differently due to their experiences OR a diversity of cultures/places people are from OR diversity in age, gender, race. All of them can lead to the same outcome as your experiences and culture define your thought process. I think it is an important differentiation to make before selecting people. Are they just being added to a big team or are you building a team that embraces new thought and experiences? If you truly want diversity I think that requires a structure to allow for it rather than hiring to tick boxes and potentially create a "diverse" team that can't contribute in their own unique way.