63% of graphic design students are female, but 83% of Creative Directors in the industry are male. It’s a disparity that shows the inequalities in the industry and a mismatch that needs to be addressed.
At Gather we want to play our part in making all the sectors we work with more equal, fairer, and more diverse. To deliver industry wide change it takes acknowledgement and commitment from everyone.
So how can we drive this change forward?
We caught up with Sarah Leech from Kerning the Gap to hear about how they are inspiring positive action in the Liverpool City Region.
What is Kerning the Gap?
Kerning the Gap is a network promoting gender equality. We want to inspire everyone to create the change needed to bridge the gender gap in the creative industries.
Whether you’re an aspiring leader, or one of the few that has pushed through the gap, we want to build a community to provoke discussion, provide inspiration and, more importantly, turn it into positive action.
What’s the long-term mission? What do you hope to achieve?
Our goal is to see more diversity in leadership roles and by doing so, improve the opportunities for people at all stages in their career. We want to do that by making leadership in creative industries accessible at all levels, invite every discipline to the conversation and to acknowledge men as a part of the solution, not the problem.
Why do you think there is a lack of gender equality in the industry?
We know that at degree level the gender split is even for many design disciplines. Where women start to disappear is as you get to mid-career. There can be many reasons for this, but from my own experience I have seen the expectation of time commitment, the ‘norms’ around leadership styles, and changing priorities all contribute to this.
What do you think are the barriers to women getting to top leadership roles?
There’s lots of contributing factors around support, stereotypes, and expectations, but I think a big barrier that can be overlooked is the prevalence of outdated and one-dimensional models of leadership in the industry. There’s a belief that people need to conform to it to be a successful leader and this results in people with different styles and different perspectives being either put off, or side-lined.
Do you think there's unconscious bias in the industry? What can leaders of businesses do to address this?
Yes! There is unconscious bias everywhere and in many forms. People tend to recruit and promote talent that is familiar to them, and this perpetuates the gender divide and a broader lack of diversity.
There are some practical steps businesses can take:
- Recognise unconscious bias – question yourself and create a culture where others can question these biases
- Check the language of job adverts is inclusive – there is a lot of research showing that women are less likely to apply if there is a list of experiences required
- Ensure your interview panel is diverse – you are more likely to attract and recruit a diverse talent pool if your interview panel has a diversity of style and background
How can people in Liverpool City Region get involved with Kerning the Gap?
We’ve just kicked off our third cohort of mentoring in the region and we’re always looking for people to get involved – either as a mentor or to get guidance and support. We also run regular speaker events and networking sessions which as are great way to connect with a community of incredible people. The best way to hear about them first is to sign up for updates on our site.
Why do you think mentoring talent so important?
Mentoring is just a really fantastic tool to support career development. It helps build understanding of yourself, helps you to focus on areas you want to develop and gives you the opportunity to have conversations about your career in a safe environment. All this builds confidence and career aspirations and helps people to not just define but start to fulfil their ambition.
Being a mentor is really rewarding too. We’ve worked with The Conversation Space to develop a special programme that equips mentors with everything they need to hone their skills and play an important part in developing the next generation of leaders.
Find out more about Kerning the Gap and how you could get involved visit ... kerningthegap.com