Our story: addressing the lack of access and diversity in the creative industries

We decided to address the lack of access and diversity in the creative industries


The creative industries are the UK’s leading economy, contributing over £84 billion a year. Although there’s much talk about diversifying the sector, representation is still worryingly low.  
While BAME representation in the creative industries is at 11%, the sector's London weighting and the city’s ethnic make-up means that figure should be closer to 17% 
Such a lack of representation results in a sector that isn’t accessing the best talent and is beginning to lose its relevance to large portions of society. For an industry whose bread and butter is engaging the public, this is a concern.
Research by the Sutton Trust shows that in journalism, just under 80% of editors were educated at private or grammar schools, compared with the 88% of the British public now at comprehensives.‍


The Work Foundation recently produced a skills audit of the UK film and screen industries, highlighting that shockingly only 3% of the sector’s production workforce is from BAME backgrounds. The report cites lack of awareness of opportunities as the main cause for poor diversity figures.
In schools and amongst parents in low-income communities, employment in the creative industries is perceived as precarious and not financially viable. As a result, many of the students we meet at the schools we work with are ruling out a career in the media at a very early age.


The industry recruits through networks. Not knowing anyone who works in the area you want a job in means not understanding, for example, that in order to get into the film industry the best approach might be to work as a runner.
Research suggests 60% of job vacancies are unadvertised.


A culture of working for free means junior roles in the creative industries are only accessible to those with financial support.


The industry is inherently unstructured. New roles are constantly being created and career trajectories in the sector are non-linear. This makes it hard to understand from the outside and means careers provision in schools is often outdated and irrelevant.
Research by the Gatsby Foundation shows that when young people and their parents know what jobs are out there and where the vacancies are — they're more likely to make choices that challenge their assumptions about the right job for "people like me". 


With a focus on passing exams, schools in the UK often fail to equip young people with the “soft skills” – like self-awareness, initiative and resilience – skills they need to thrive in this job market.


Harvard Business Review found companies with a diverse workforce to be 70% more likely to capture new business. 
Fundamentally, creative businesses are aware of the imperative to improve the representation amongst their workforce. Both because it’s unfair, and because of the business imperative. A growing number of organisation are campaigning for better representation. So why are things slow to change?


Employers are looking for more meaningful ways to invest in their staff. Individuals want to work for companies that offer opportunities to develop themselves and progress. 
Studies show that organisations with a commitment to social impact hire and retain the best employees. 


It is these insights that led Founder Isabel Farchy, previously a Teach First teacher to set up Creative Mentor Network, formerly Pitch It, connecting young people from under-represented backgrounds with industry professionals through mentoring. Since its launch 2 years ago, CMN has worked with 100 young people at risk of becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training), referred from 25 schools across London, and matching them with their own mentor.
80% of participants have gone on to access further work opportunities in the creative industries as a result of the programme. And 100% report increased confidence and drive to pursue a career in the industry. 

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    Creative Mentor Network

    • Social Enterprise