Creative Access urges ad industry to mentor more BAME staff as they climb ladder

Creative Access is appealing to the UK ad industry to do more to mentor people from BAME backgrounds after they have got onto the first rung of the career ladder.

Creative Access urges ad industry to mentor more BAME staff as they climb ladder

The not-for-profit organisation that fights for diversity in the creative industries said it has about 120 candidates from black, Asian and other ethnic minority backgrounds who are one to five years into a career in the creative industries and in need of a mentor.

Josie Dobrin, the chief executive of Creative Access, said it has been making headway in getting internships and work experience for BAME people at the start of their careers and placed over 800 people in nearly 300 companies across the creative industries over the last four years.

However, the organisation is finding it less easy to ensure BAME staff get continued mentoring after an internship when they will often benefit from further support.

"We’ve got about 120 people who need mentors [but] who haven’t got mentors," Dobrin said, explaining the advertising industry is a particular problem.

"If the advertising industry is serious about diversity and inclusivity, people need to take individual responsibility for investing in young people."

Creative Access claims to have a strong track record with internships, with 92% of candidates going on to get a job in the sector, but Dobrin said that continued support can be important to help people as they look to climb the career ladder.

"The truth is two, three, four years on, nine out of 10 aren’t in touch [with their mentor]," she said.

"When they finish [an internship], we want to make sure they’ve got a framework to progress.

"Having a mentor can make or break a career and it can be extremely fulfilling for both sides – mentor and mentee."

"We’re looking for people who have the benefit of good contacts [to be mentors]. They don’t have to be a managing director or chief executive."

Agencies 'by far the worst at making any meaningful change'

Naren Patel, the chief executive of Primesight, is backing Creative Access’s call for more support for BAME people in their careers.

He is one of the founders of Media for All, a new networking group for BAME executives in marketing services, to tackle the issue of diversity in the industry.

"We need to increase the engagement of BAME executives," Patel said.

Creative Access works with all of the creative industries and Dobrin said the ad industry is lagging behind other sectors such as publishing on diversity.

"I don’t want to be critical but it’s got further to go than other sectors," she said.

Sathnam Sanghera, a columnist for The Times and former chairman of Creative Access, has been more critical in the past.

He said in 2016: "We work with every possible media sector at Creative Access, and agencies are by far the worst at making any meaningful change.

"We meet them all the time; they talk the talk, and even arrange events with our interns, but then do nothing."

Only 5.4% of people working in creative industries come from BAME backgrounds, despite making up 14% of the population, according to census data cited by Creative Access.

BBH, Channel 4, ITV, Lucky Generals, M&C Saatchi, VCCP and Y&R are among companies that have given internships to candidates via Creative Access.

For more information on mentoring, go to Creative Access's website or the Mentor Registration Form

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