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‘Hire Different’ – Can Recruitment Change The Diversity Story?

‘Hire Different’ – Can Recruitment Change The Diversity Story?

I recently went to an event hosted by Facebook Creative Shop, where the topic was how recruitment can change the diversity story within the creative and tech industries. I received the invite with not overly high expectations to be honest, as I’ve been to a fair few talks on the topic and never grasped how I could personally have an impact on the issue, however, with a line up of speakers who (having researched) looked pretty good, I thought it would be worth going along!

It opened with Ali Hanan, an award winning Creative Director herself, speaking about how some years ago, she met someone she was interviewing and the interviewee said,

‘Oh, I thought you’d be a guy!’

Taken aback, Ali google imaged ‘Creative Director’, rows and rows of white male mug shots came up. From this, she knew something had to change. Fast forward to 2018, Ali is now CEO and Founder of a model for diversity – Creative Equals, where their ethos is simple:

diverse teams = diverse work = diverse audiences

Marianne Waite – Senior Strategy Consultant and Founder at Think Designable.

Marianne spoke about her personal experience within diversity; how her sister lives with cerebral palsy and the difficulties she faces specifically in social situations. Marianne went on to explain how she set up a company dedicated to include people with impairments and disabilities therefore making it easier for them to integrate into social groups and participation. It amazed me how much we can do to help with this and incorporate into daily life. For example, considering from another angle or perspective how to best include people and what solutions we can discover by doing so. Whether that be digitally, physically or mentally.   

Lucy Hobbs – Freelance Creative Director and Founder of The Future Is ND.

Lucy spoke about neuro-diversity, which was a new term for me as I’d never heard of it before! Essentially it’s a concept where neurological differences such as dyslexia, ADHD and autism etc are recognised and respected within society thus making inclusion more seamless. She went onto describe certain website applications and processes (such as the Government) which were near impossible to complete by those classed as neuro-diverse and how this needs to be improved and changed. Zebra do a lot of work with the Government, so this is something I’m definitely going to take on board when I speak to them next!

Shahnaz Ahmed – Creative Strategist at Facebook & Instagram.

Shahnaz started with telling us about her morning so far – how she’d brought her daughter to work with her due to nursery issues and had to basically be a magician in a ridiculously short time frame, with getting both herself and her daughter ready, navigating trains and getting to Facebook HQ all by 9am! Instant win in my mind! Shahnaz founded Knit Aid which is a global social movement, empowering refugees through knitting and bringing creative communities together. Alongside this, she has also been shortlisted for The Drum’s Creative Women of the Year award in partnership with Creative Equals. Also, being an ethnic minority woman in creative, she is on a mission to increase equality and diversity in creative roles.

Adrian Walcott – BAME2020/Brands With Values

Adrian started his career abroad at Ogilvy & Mather, working in Africa on Unilever and Nestle Brands, before joining Bates UK (Now WPP). He spoke about the difference in business in Africa vs. England…as you can imagine, very different indeed! For example, in Africa, everything is done face to face in order to get anything done as opposed to on the phone over here. Fast forward 20 years and he has now founded BAME 2020 which is a game changing and inclusive social enterprise initiative dedicated to attracting, and retaining, young BAME ((British English) Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) talent. Alongside this, he is also MD of Brands with Values who have developed a framework which helps companies measure their culture and external reputation. Adrian’s delivery of his talk and how down to earth he is, was brilliant, particularly when he spoke about how comfortable he felt being himself when speaking to people, given someone of his stature.

Following the talks, we had an open discussion and a ‘mini-hackathon’ about how we can ensure these changes are made to counteract the problem of diversity, head on, as recruiters. Multiple ideas were thrown around the room such as: making time to think outside the box, incorporating it into our day and educating clients on how increasing diversity will also increase diverse ideas.

There were several suggestions, but the one I took from it was time. Taking the time to do it. Taking time to speak to more diverse cultures, people and clients. It all comes down to that. Once I make time to do it, little by little it will help. As an example, I recently went to see a new client who essentially said to me, they want to hire a pretty white female, from a good university. I immediately turned down working with them. This is the exact opposite of what diversity is, and this is the problem we face as recruiters.

So many clients say,

‘I really need a male (or female) senior’

This isn’t a model I’m prepared to work to, and this is my driver as a recruiter to increase diverseness within the creative industry.

I want to partner with clients and candidates who believe what Ali Hanan believes:

diverse teams = diverse work = diverse audiences

All in all, it was a fantastic event and I came away from it feeling genuinely pumped to get to work. It was the most effective event that I have been to of its kind. Whether that was the speech or the delivery of it. Or more so, that I can personally have an impact on it, and help change the diversity story. By changing the way I work, bit by bit, and taking time to do so, I can help.

I have learnt that ‘little changes, make big changes’.

If you have any thoughts on the above, I’d love to hear from you and of course, I am here if you have any recruitment needs!

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

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