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These are the organizations shaping a truly diverse, creative workforce
May 3, 2022
Communications director at The Mill and Technicolor Creative Studios, Isabelle du Plessis, outlines some of the leading organizations that are facilitating diverse hiring practices and creativity across the advertising industry.
“It’s so important we are talking about this.” If you have been in any space seeking to make some type of progressive change, then you have probably heard that phrase. Companies all over the world are making announcements about their commitment to DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) principles, and promising to look at their current leadership models and hiring practices.
Maybe you yourself have attended a company forum to discuss current events and hold place for those whose voice has been historically silenced, or maybe you have attached a pressing social justice slogan to your e-signature in support of those paving a way for a more compassionate future. In the age of internet, virtual words and announcements do carry a lot of weight, and it can feel good to sit back and look at what you have shared, posted, recorded, liked, or otherwise typed into existence. But it begs the question, what’s next? How do we hold our CEOs, directors, managers, and partners to their words? At The Mill, we’ve been doing our best to translate conversation into action, by partnering with a series of leading industry groups that are actively integrating diverse talent into the creative industries.
It is imperative that we work together at every stage of the creative process to create an industry that respects, embraces, and encourages the uniqueness of individuals and their talent. Here are some key organizations that creative studios in the advertising and entertainment space can partner with in order to access and give opportunity to the world’s rich and diverse talent pool.
Change the Lens
To take action, Change the Lens first puts the onus on industries to commit to taking actionable steps to achieve racial diversity in their fields. In their words, Change the Lens is “a pledge to ensure the representation of Black filmmakers within the commercial and music video film industry is reflective of the greater population,” and it asks creatives to sign the ‘production company’ pledge - a commitment to achieving at least 15% black directors on the company’s roster.
They also have pledges for directors, producers, department heads, and talent agencies. Change the Lens asks you to (1) acknowledge current diversity, (2) create a goal and plan for achievement, and (3) evaluate progress towards goal with any course-correction measures. Change the Lens was founded by Savanah Leaf, Alli Maxwell, Rohan Blair-Mangat & Jason Harper. You can find out more about Change the Lens on their website or follow them on Instagram @changethelens.
Black Girl Film School
To continue with efforts to reshape industry practices, Black Girl Film School (BGFS) aims to shape the next generation. BGFS is a collection of media experts, filmmakers, screenwriters, cinematographers, producers, directors, teachers, instructional designers, and below the line crew – all with one common goal of increasing the number of black women working in the industry above and below the line.
BGFS looks to “improve the academic performance of middle school aged girls,” which, in turn, “increases the number of black women working and leading in the film, TV and media industries.” The Mill helped craft captivating and colorful graphics packages for the organization to help uplift their messaging, and, hopefully, aid in education of the next generation of creative Mill hires.
“I’ve worked on a lot of incredible projects during my time with The Mill LA, but it’s a rare opportunity to be able to facilitate something that you hope has real change within your community and the culture of your own workplace,” comments one of The Mill’s senior producers. To access the Mill’s work with Black Girl Film School and read more about the collaborative process, read The Mill’s spotlight article. To learn more about BGFS programming or donate, you can visit their website.
Of course, while investing in future talent is critical, so is investing in current talent. Enter ACCESS:VFX. ACCESS:VFX is a global industry-led non-profit, composed of 40 leading companies, industry bodies and educational establishments in the VFX, animation and games industries. It focuses on actively pursuing and encouraging inclusion, diversity, awareness, and opportunity under its four pillars of inspiration, education, mentoring and recruitment.
As part of an ongoing relationship with the organization, The Mill often works with ACCESS:VFX to participate in discussions around career paths in the digital creator space. The talks, whether in-person or virtual, are open to all and provided key insights into how to gain access to the field, regardless of background. These conversations highlight that no matter where you are in your career or education, there is a place for you in the visual effects industry. Listen to The Mill’s latest podcast discussion with ACCESS:VFX here and visit the ACCESS:VFX homepage to get involved.
D&AD Shift with Google
Accessible education is essential in shaping industry diversity. D&AD Shift with Google is a free night school, uncovering raw, untrained talent. Shift gives its new creatives a serious industry in, compelling them to make the creative work of their life. Workshops and talks are delivered direct from pros at the top of their game, with learning backed up by real client brief. D&AD Shift NYC is a 12-week free workshop for aspiring creatives in New York.
This year they are offering a program with Google in London. During the night school, participants cover key skills useful to a creative career in the world of advertising and design such as design, copywriting, art direction, strategy and production to name a few. In NYC’s 2019 program, 74% of the ‘shifters’ secured placements following graduating the program in January, including in companies such AKQA, Iris, and Design Bridge.
D&AD has partnered with industry leaders for years, and they often present their Innovation and VFX classes in partnership with The Mill, globally. To learn more about D&AD or sign up for their course, visit their website. To see The Mill’s creative work with D&AD, you can visit The Mill’s archive.
The Disability Confident plan of action has been set up by the UK government to help organizations improve how they attract, recruit and retain disabled workers to boost inclusion in the workplace. By signing up, an employer has made a public declaration that they are committed to doing better in this space.
Companies like The Mill have worked closely with leading Disability Confident consultants, such as Graeme Whippy MBE, to support them on their journey to becoming a Disability Confident Employer. All employers join the scheme at level 1 (disability confident committed), and progress through the levels as their confidence increases. The scheme is voluntary and access to guidance, good practice and resources is completely free.
Managing director of The Mill, Misha Harris said, “Shockingly, nearly 50% of the UK’s disabled population are unemployed. We want to do better at recruiting a diverse range of able-bodied and disabled talent to bring new ways of thinking to the studio. It’s about creating a barrier-free working environment for everybody.”
Albert Kennedy Trust
The Albert Kennedy Trust (AKT) is an organization that supports LGBT+ young people aged 16-25 in the UK who are facing or experiencing homelessness or living in a hostile environment. They work to support young people in accessing safe homes and employment, education or training, and a welcoming and open environment that celebrates LGBT+ identities.
In the UK, 24% of homeless young people identify as LGBT+, and 77% of the youth the AKT works with believe coming out was a factor in their homelessness. By partnering with AKT, organizations can help marginalized youth find safety and provide access to creative opportunities.
The Mill created a campaign video for AKT as part of their two-day festival with the aim of bringing together LGBT+ music, comedy and drag from across the UK, as well as panel discussions with members from their community. You can find out more about AKT here or on their Instagram @aktcharity. You can see The Mill’s campaign film, “We Are Family” here.
Our work as an industry is still in its infancy, so it’s on our collective selves to ensure our efforts don’t fall stagnant, and that we continue to learn and grow. Partnering with organizations that actively seek to change the landscape allows us to take initial steps. Partnerships, mentorships, hiring opportunities: all of these create vital pathways to diversifying the workforce and opening space to people who do not see themselves represented in their careers of choice.