As a Black student hopefully graduating this summer, I know how difficult the path to success is for people like me. I’ve been working in the creative industries since I was in college, and the past six years have seen me take on unpaid internship after unpaid temporary voluntary gig, to even having to work in a toilet roll factory to sustain myself financially (whilst running my creative business). I didn’t go to private school, nor did I have parents who could support me financially during my university days, yet often I see some who had these privileges get amazing creative roles. It may seem like I’m flourishing now, but the agency I started in 2016 has only been able to start paying its founders from this year!
This is the harsh reality for Black professionals in the creative industries. According to the All In Survey, 32% of Black talent in the industry has said they are willing to leave it over a lack of representation, unsurprisingly so, as just 1% of C-Suite roles in this industry are occupied by Black people. This is whilst the percentage of those same roles occupied by fee-paying school attendees is 28%. It is completely unjust that an industry, thriving on cultures and customs created by Black people, are unable to give Black talent deserved opportunities, placements, safe working environments and well-paying jobs.
When discussing solutions, the thing I most often get told by creative industry recruiters is that they “don’t know where to find Black talent”, that diverse audiences are “too hard to reach”. Too hard, or too lazy? In her critical response to the widely disseminated Actions Not Words piece, championed by many creative industries institutions, Shanice Mears accurately notes: “real commitment to breaking the system is uncomfortable, hard and challenging”. There is no quick-fix solution to problems of inequity, discrimination, and a lack of representation in the creative industries. They’re not solved by one-off panels, a black square, or by hiring a couple of Black juniors into a toxic and exclusive working environment.
Established industry institutions need to undergo long-term behaviour changes, and support initiatives that are dedicated to making real system changes which re-enfranchise Black people in these spaces, initiatives that I am proud to be a part of. Maybe, creative industries, it’s time for you to work twice as hard to end your culture of inequality.
The Broadcasts has been set up with this step-change in mind. We are creating a space that empowers and encourages Black students to look at careers that aren’t typically offered to them by traditional recruitment platforms while at university. Our range of speakers from some of the biggest organisations such as Deloitte and JP Morgan are there to inspire young Black talent to follow the paths that they want to follow, not those that have been pre-selected for them.
By creating this series of events, we can hope to inspire Black students to involve themselves in industries that aren’t typically offered to them, and challenge companies to take up the mandate of including Black talents.
Written by Josh Akapo, account executive at The Broadcasts
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