The mantra if you cannot see it you cannot be it may well be a well worn cliché, but that does not make it any less relevant.
In the creative industry, where only 12% of creative directors are women, showcasing a diverse range of role models and supporting women up the rungs remains an important pursuit – particularly when a steady stream of female talent continues to exit the industry and, for many, the creative industries do not feel like an inclusive space.
For all the focus on talent pipelines and education, the fact remains that many women opt out of the advertising industry before reaching the first rung of the ladder. Meanwhile the latest IPA diversity figures underline the lack of BAME representation.
In a bid to address this challenge and hold open the door to the next generation of talent, creative duo Danny Pallett and Charlotte Hugh, who are also part of the Young Creative Council (YCC), launched Badass.Gal on International Women’s Day this year.
For the past 182 days the site has showcased the talents of a diverse pool of female talent. Half-way through the project the duo share what they have learned so far and why the industry needs to showcase more Badass female talent.
Q: Why did you set up Badass.Gal?
A: As part of the Young Creative Council we regularly visit universities, schools and colleges across the UK talking to the next generation of creative talent. In doing so, we noticed that these classrooms and lecture theatres were full of young, ambitious females yet the industry we work in is lacking them. Approximately 60% of creative students are female, but only 30% end up working full-time.
So, we realised we should and could do something about it. The idea was simple; create a platform which celebrates a different young, female creative every single day. Working or not working, if they’re doing something amazing regardless of their "years" experience’ we wanted to shout about it – making our industry aware of these badass young women in hope to change these stats.
Q: What makes a Badass.Gal?
A: A Badass Gal is someone who is already going above and beyond regardless of their years experience. Perhaps they’re a creative who’s already making inspiring work, someone who’s set up their own business straight out of university, or someone who hasn’t even gone to university but isn’t letting that hold them back one bit – because why should it?
Our focus right now is young women within, or breaking into, the creative industries. So, designers, copywriters, illustrators, photographers, directors, technologists, etc as well as founders of businesses which have creativity at their core.
Some Badass Gals to date include Robyn Frost, junior copywriter at Poke, who was one of our first Badass Gals, and one of the inspirations behind the platform. After becoming aware of Robyn through her award-winning work for The British Army and after reading her words in Campaign, and many other publications it was clear Robyn had such passion and determination to not only make incredible work, but ultimately make our industry a better place.
Another incredible talent is Sophia Tassew, Art Director at ASOS Curve Insider, Artist & RIOT GAL. Sophia is living proof it's not your degree which gets you in the door, it's your attitude. After dropping out of university Sophia has worked in some of London's top advertising agencies, set up a number of sell out exhibitions, and has been interviewed by Vogue before bagging a full-time role at Nike. Pretty badass for a 21 year old.
And it’s not just traditional advertising creatives; YouTube creator, developer, gamer and musician Yasmin Curren is the epitome of a Badass Gal. Curren was one of Raspberry Pi's first creative technologists. She can code, edit, write and sing and is passionate about storytelling in the digital age. Curren has a compelling vision to bring the world together using the power of technology.
Q: In 2018 why is it still important to celebrate and showcase diverse female talent?
A: As part the Young Creative Council our focus has always been helping and inspiring young creatives. And despite the great progress being made in order to make our industry more diverse, if we, as an industry continue to fill future leaders lists with people who are already leaders’, male or female, then we run the risk of young people feeling alienated and even more intimidated.
To an outsider looking in, the creative industry doesn’t always feel like an inclusive place, at times it can often feel like the ‘cool kids’ in school, where knowing your stuff doesn’t matter, it’s who you know that does. This is something we really need to shake, and we hope Badass Gal is beginning to do so. We should be recognising talent, no matter where or who it comes from – this will always be important.
Q: What has the process of setting up Badass.Gal and the interviews with the female creatives taught you?
A: Firstly, that there are so many incredible young women doing incredible things. We’re so inspired by the people we meet through running Badass gal and continue to be, every single day.
Secondly, young people need cheerleaders too. Often when we email those who have been nominated they’re so surprised, but so thankful for the chance to be recognised for their work. But it’s always others nominating them, we rarely receive self-nominations so, if you know of any young people doing amazing things – please nominate them. Or if you’re a young person doing something brilliant, don’t shy away from nominating yourself. You can be your own cheerleader too.
Q: Why is there still an action gap between talking about diversity and achieving diversity in the creative industries?
A: It’s often the same people having the same conversations in the same places. It’s the people who aren’t reading this we really need to talk to. But it’s important everyone realises we all have a place in the conversation around implementing change, and making our industry better. It’s not something only certain people can influence. The sooner those who don’t think they can ‘do anything’ realise they can, the better.
Q: What barriers do you see for female creatives and what would be your advice to agencies as to how to attract and retain a vibrant and diverse talent pool?
A: Role models. We know the industry is lacking women in senior positions. But not only this, often in our experience, getting any face-time with anyone in senior positions is hard, unless it’s to review work. Agencies should be putting focus on setting up mentoring programmes. That’s why we love the SheSays Who’s your momma mentor scheme – those guys are doing such a great job of tackling this.
Also, young people should be offered more training, internal and external. Training is often over-looked for young people, but these are our future leaders. The first few years within any job is such a great opportunity to learn, collaborate and help shape your own future and the future of the industry too. The Creative Equals night school is great for this.
Agencies should be setting up placement schemes, and hiring people from them. From our experience there’s a lot of internal pressure to figure out what an agencies placement scheme is going to stand for or look like to the outside world, which more often than not delays the process of getting talent into an agency. We’ve found that it’s easier to start off small by getting in a few placement teams or individuals in as it allows you to get people in and have them support, learn, and do, whilst learning your agencies way of working with placements.
Also, it’s worth remembering that placements shouldn’t be cheap labour, there should be a learning process and not just photocopying.
Q: Do the creative industries need to create more platforms to celebrate and elevate diverse female talent?
A: They don’t necessarily need more platforms, they just need to do it. How they do it is up to them. Whether they nominate them through Badass Gal, or they celebrate them internally, companies should not only be thinking about how they attract talent, but how they retain it. A great place to start is by celebrating individuals they have who are doing amazing things.
Q: What impact do you hope to achieve with Badass.Gal?
A: Our hope for the platform is that it becomes a tool for agencies and companies to use when looking to hire, collaborate or just to simply be inspired. And of course, our main aim for the platform is to increase the number of young women in full-time employment within the creative industries.
We’re already talking about offering free workshops and training for our Badass Gals, in partnership with Facebook, to give them the tools they need to take their businesses, or work to the next level.