Diageo and Creative Equals take #CreativeComeback scheme global

Returner scheme supports women going back to work in creative industries following career break.

Saller: Diageo is supporting scheme for second year
Saller: Diageo is supporting scheme for second year

Diageo will once again sponsor Creative Equals’ returner scheme, #CreativeComeback, as the initiative – which supports women as they return from a career break – goes international.

Following this year's UK scheme, which saw 58 women complete a course in London and Manchester, Creative Equals will run the project next year in London, New York and Mumbai.

It will aim to help 100 women back into work, in the process taking steps towards balancing representation in the industry. In the UK, only 16% of creative directors are women; in the US, women now make up more than half of the total marketing industry workforce, but lag behind in leadership roles.

The scheme starts with a two-week training boot camp, run in conjunction with D&AD, that brings participants up to speed on industry developments, then calls on them to respond to briefs from Diageo brands including Gordon’s, Baileys, Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Black & White. Those taking part will include art directors, copywriters, designers, user experience designers and social, editorial and digital creatives. The boot camp is then followed by a four-week placement at a leading agency, during which the returner is supported by a coach. 

"I’m pleased to see more women entering the boardrooms of agencies, but too few are in creative leadership positions. I am convinced that diversity in creative leadership leads to better and more effective work. It’s time for concerted action that will close the creative leadership gap," Syl Saller, chief marketing officer at Diageo, said.

"We were blown away by the responses to our briefs from the returners in 2019 and I’m thrilled to see women who took part go on to re-establish flourishing careers. We’re proud to be bringing #CreativeComeback to the UK, US and India – countries that are crucial to both our business and the creative industries as a whole."

Ali Hanan, founder of Creative Equals, added: "In 2019, with the Government Equalities Office, D&AD and Diageo, we have been able to put bridges back to work for 41 women in London and Manchester, with 15 permanent hires. We know this is life-changing for some, giving them their careers back and making a dent on changing the ratio of female creative directors across all markets.

"Our aim is to shift the perception of CV gaps; these moments where life happens are creativity’s gifts and yet ‘time out’ as a barrier to coming back to work.

"We also know ageism is a challenge; while 70% of the UK’s income is held by those over 50, just 6% of our workforce sits in this age bracket. We know who makes the work shapes the work, so to produce better, more innovative ideas we need diverse perspectives with those from all walks of life at the table to represent the audiences we serve."