All aboard! Why The Great Diversity Experiment matters
The challenge: 120 people + 40 mentors = 17 creative teams aiming to smash a live brief and prove that diversity works
Don’t talk, do. This was very much the position of the founders of The Great British Diversity Experiment which launched to a full house at Google HQ, Monday 11 January. Cue ‘the most diverse room of people’ MediaCom’s Karen Blackett has ‘ever seen’ in the industry’, all chomping at the bit to get teamed up and started on a cracking brief to solve the challenge of Food Wastage, set by supermarket behemoth Tesco and their creative agency BBH London.
‘We’d been talking about diversity and didn’t want to talk anymore – we wanted to DO. And The Great British Diversity Experiment was born’ explained initiative co-founder (and Sunshine MD) Nadya Powell in her heartfelt opener, while fellow co-founder Jonathan Akwue, incoming CEO of Lost Boys, emphasised that ‘this is an experiment – we don’t know exactly what will happen. That exactly what makes it exciting.’
If London’s 3% MiniCon served to flag up the appalling lack of female creatives in the industry, the challenge of ethnic and cultural diversity is 20 years behind the push for gender equality according to business and diversity leader Miranda Brawn: ‘More women in an organisation increases effectiveness by 15%. More ethnic diversity and this goes up by 35%’ she highlighted, adding that ‘Britain is a diverse society – to remain competitive we need to reflect that.’ To put it bluntly, with an increasingly diverse population it just makes business sense to ensure that companies have real policies in place to ensure that they are representative, inclusive and can have conversations with and speak to everyone. And if I – as a state-educated mother of 37 find it hard to ‘see what I can be’, to paraphrase the indomitable Cindy Gallop – I know that it is my responsibility to both make myself more visible for those like me, and to support others who find themselves in the minority, to secure their foothold and grow in this rapidly changing industry. And, anyway, regardless of business sense or altruistic motivation, as a creative polymath, with a career in fashion that mashes up publishing, e-commerce, marketing and now advertising, diversity just makes sense.
So today I find myself mentored by VML’s Joana Veiga and Digitas LBi’s Chris Clarke as part of ‘Team 2′, alongside a photographer, a digital strategists, art directors, a journalist and a businesswoman, with less than five weeks to find our groove and nail not just a creative concept and presentation, but also prove that diversity means better ideas, processes, and challenges. Watch this space.