In the creative industries, like many others, the closer to the top you get, the fewer women and GNC people there are. The truth is, for all the talk of gender equality in our ESG statements, B Corp pages and our campaign creative for clients, the playing field is still far from even closer to home. As a female leader in the Creative industries, it's hard to stomach. I regularly question my demeanour, my dress, my hair, my tattoos and wonder if they undermine my credibility. It's not all in my head either; in 2023 I received some feedback from a potential client about being 'full on', and you can bet a (typical white) man wouldn't have had to deal with that.
It's no wonder then that when women/GNC people do climb the ladder, we often feel compelled to present as a ‘typical’ leader. It leaves me asking: “Where are the leaders who look like me?”. Who is there that I can look up to and learn from? Because if we can’t see it, we can’t be it, and it's just not around me. It's not just about me though – I'm opinionated and stubborn and eventually dropped the pitch feedback mentioned above – but it's about kids and young people, too, whose minds are still being made up about role models and careers, who're lacking in diverse role models to inspire a belief that they can do it too. In fact, I recently presented at an assembly at a local high school, and the kids were incredulous that the person in front of them with a pink suit, orange hair and tattoos was a boss (and they were even more disappointed when I told them about my unimpressive car). They'd never seen a boss that looks like me, and that's wild as I’m pretty tame.
That's why we're pleased to (finally) launch this project.
In 2025 we're embarking on a project to create a photo series of female and GNC leaders in design, advertising and marketing. This evolving online gallery of striking images and honest stories will showcase creative leaders who don’t follow the convention of what a leader ‘should’ look like – whether that’s because of their gender, their race, their background, how they present, or all of the above. Together these images will create a new face for leadership in creativity, designed to inspire more women, girls and GNC people to know that they don’t need to change their looks, their character or their attitude to succeed. To encourage those in positions of power or support to believe that leaders (or those of tomorrow) don’t have to look, act or lead a certain way. Instead, it’s a rich, diverse tapestry that helps creativity, innovation and business flourish and grow.
In time we'll grow in diversity and scope. We hope to share these images with education, industry, sector bodies and beyond – whoever can help share this message.
We need you
If you're interested in being involved in this project in any shape, we'd love to hear from you. Are you someone with a story to share, who'd be willing to spend half a day with us? Do you know someone brilliant who would never put themselves forward? Please hook us up. Or do you just want to stay involved in the project as it evolves? Get in touch with Rachel@threetenseven.co