Futureproofing Talent Through Diversity

Sun, 24 Apr 2016
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Impact recently hosted a roundtable event to discuss ‘Diversity & Inclusion in the Media and Creative Landscape’, led by Julia Sandler, Joint MD.

With so many fantastic ideas shared and issues discussed amongst a group of senior HR peers, here is our first installment in order to shed some light on current issues within this area.

The most obvious concern is futureproofing; 55% of businesses are concerned there will not be enough people available in the future with the necessary skills to fill their jobs (source: BITC).  How can we provide solutions for this by accessing diverse talent?  How can we make our businesses accessible to diverse talent? How can we retain diverse talent once they’ve been hired?

One of the major challenges we currently face is that the majority of entry level BAME talent are unaware of the career options which exist in businesses, so looking at other ways of grabbing the attention of a more diverse audience is important.  With young BAME talent in mind, there’s a huge education piece which needs to happen on two levels.  Firstly to access the parents of young people to educate them on the variation of career options available for their children, and secondly, to engage with children at the right level to attract them to the creative industries and make this path attainable.

Setting up apprenticeship schemes to attract non-graduates as well as graduates can be a great way to recruit and interview in a more informal fashion.  Thankfully, the creative industries are becoming more open to education level, depending on the role, and we know that our clients do hire into entry-level roles from these schemes and often the candidates are non-graduates.  By parterning with local schools and colleges, holding events and careers days, you can make your business accessible to a wider population.   The key is to ensure your target audience is inspired and communicated with affectively to ensure they are aware of their eligibility.   Building a career in the media and creative industries is a lot about culture, personality and individual creativity after all.

Whilst there has been progress in this area within the industries, we need to look into the retention of diverse staff.  Research has found that a lack of role models for BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) and LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Queer/Questioning) talent within the industry has been a hindrance to entry level employees.  We discovered that diverse talent typically leave the workplace earlier, perhaps costing businesses a whole year or two of the individual’s skills and talent.  Reasons include real or perceived barriers, with employees feeling uncomfortable to have conversations with superiors due to lack of familiarity or understanding.

Shockingly, over 90% of the advertising, design, music and literature workforce in the UK is white (source: BITC).  Some positive solutions can be implemented by being creative, for example publicising employees’ achievements via social media and talking about diversity via blogs.  This can create a more accessible framework to the outside community.   If we can create ways to make the industry more accessible to young people from disadvantaged and diverse backgrounds, we can provide hiring solutions for businesses that fear a lack of talent for the future.

We’ve seen that, very positively, the need for change and hiring a more diverse talent base is coming from the top, and CEOs are increasingly more aware and interested in investing in various attraction methods.  Tackling the issues around attraction, retention and inclusion of diverse staff is a huge topic and one which deserves a key focus within talent strategies across the creative and media industries and our further blogs will continue to brainstorm ideas to address these issues.

Thank you to Catherine Falla (Grey London), Amina Folarin (Digitas LBi), Ben Fletcher (Dentsu Aegis Media), Beckie Akers (Cohn & Wolfe), Tina Fiandaca (Mullen Lowe Group), Fliss Carr (Impact) and Priya Mitchell (BITC) for your valuable contributions.