Creative Equals unveils 'returnship' programme for creative women

Gender-diversity organisation Creative Equals has launched the industry's first "returnship" scheme to entice female creatives back to work.

Creative Equals’ returnship: Shepherd (left) and Buonaguidi
Creative Equals’ returnship: Shepherd (left) and Buonaguidi

It has partnered D&AD, the IPA, the British Interactive Media Association, SheSays, Creative Social, The Industry Club, the School of Communication Arts and several agencies for the programme.

The initiative has three strands. Women could apply for a "return to perm" scheme with agencies such as Sapient-Nitro, which is offering a ten-week paid "returnship" with a permanent position at the end.

Women will also be able to train at the SCA. Places will be free as applicants will be sponsored by agencies.

A third option is to answer briefs at home through agencies or Pimp My Cause. The work, which will be reviewed by executive creative directors from Creative Equals partner agencies, will help build portfolios.

This week, the programme placed its first "returnee". Sarah Shepherd, a mother of three, is working alongside Dave Buonaguidi, chief creative officer at Crispin Porter & Bogusky London. 

Buonaguidi said that talented people should not be penalised because they want to be mums or dads. He added: "There is a massive disconnect between the people in the business and the people we talk to."

Earlier this year, research by Creative Equals and the Young Creative Council revealed that 60% of young female creatives believe they can’t stay in the industry with a young family. This year, an IPA Mother’s Day survey found that 55% of mothers feel advertisers don’t understand them.

Ali Hanan, founder of Creative Equals, which is looking for women to join the scheme, urged the industry to stop mothers from leaving in the first place. She said: "We need to create the right frameworks so new parents feel they can stay and thrive in adland."

Read next: How to stage a creative comeback

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