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Diversity in the creative industry

Updated: Jun 6, 2019

It matters because this is the industry that reflects back to us while also shaping the way we see the world.



Diversity in the creative industry is about stories of the world getting told and reflecting back to us the way in which we see the world while enhancing the way we live it. As it currently stands, it defines the canon of our visual worlds that can be very removed from our realities as people of diverse ethnic backgrounds.


~Only 11.4% of industry jobs are filled with people of color

~Only 11.5% of creative directors are women


A fairly recent study by Adobe revealed some truths that creatives of color have been feeling for a while. Aptly named “Creativity’s diversity disconnect” this study showed some hard numbers backing the fact that access in the creative industry for people of color is a big part of the lack of diversity we see on a daily basis. It says that “People of color run into challenges in the workplace relative to entry and advancement.” Not only is there a lack of exposure of younger people of color to creative professions, but also, creatives of color cite a lack of support from parents and mentors as barriers to entry. This phenomenon basically ensures that creatives start out and remain at a disadvantaged position. From a lack of awareness of creative professions to creatives of color being twice as likely to report feeling that they had a lack of access to tools and training as well as feeling that coworkers don’t value their contributions. There is significant opportunity for course correction.


Encouraging diversity means addressing some of the aforementioned cultural and societal barriers. More encouragement and support from parents and mentors would go a long way in addressing some pipeline issues. The more formal training that people of color have in these fields, the higher their chance of success. There are so many creatives out there with pre-med and other technical degrees because they were advised to take more “practical” courses at a young age. Passion wins out more often than we talk about.


Internships are a huge gateway into this industry, but the creative industry is also notorious for its unpaid/ poorly paid internships. This of course is a barrier to many from working class families, a lot of whom are people of color. Enabling people to afford to work for you is a huge step in alleviating early carrier barriers.


Lastly, Access, access, access! This industry (and a lot of others as well) relies too heavily on who you know in order to gain access into it and advance within it. From the adobe report mentioned earlier, a lack of awareness of opportunities and tools for advancement are contributors to the stalled careers of women and people of color. To truly champion diversity, organizations and individuals must find ways to go outside of their networks to recruit new talent otherwise we continue the present dynamic.



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