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Creative Equals Launches Government Funded ‘Returners’ Programme



Two-week programme to run in International Women’s Week for 35 returners with 30 founding brand and agency partners

Creative Equals Launches Government Funded ‘Returners’ Programme

Creative Equals, the organisation championing diversity in the creative industries, today launches a full creative ‘Returners’ programme for 2019, backed by a £65,000 grant from the Government Equalities Office. Creative Equals will run the two-week programme from March 4th - 14th 2019, (International Women’s Week), for 35 returners with the aim of placing 24 of them into roles.

The programme, taking place in London and Manchester, is one of just five initiatives awarded by a new government start up fund aimed at tackling gender inequality. The programme is designed for mid-senior copywriters, IX/UX, art directors, producers, strategists, data analysts, designers and concept creatives. 

With 30 brand and agency founding partners already on board and more joining daily, the first week of the bootcamp will focus on upskilling, getting the cohort up to speed on all the latest creative and tech developments. The second will see the group working on real briefs set by brand partners including Lego and Facebook.  Following the programme, returners will then go on a 4-6-week placement with one of Creative Equals’ founding partners and will be supported by a dedicated coach throughout.

Creative Equals was founded by Ali Hanan who has worked in the advertising and marketing sector for the last 19 years. She set the organisation up in response to the disparity of just 12% of creative directors being women, despite 85% of purchasing decisions being made by them. Emily DeGroot is the director of the London programme while Caroline Pankhurst will lead in Manchester.

According to Hanan: "We are so honoured to receive this fund, which will mean we can build more bridges back to work for creative women. Our programme is a direct response to the difficulties returning carers face when attempting to re-enter the world of work. Just when creatives are stepping up to leadership roles, parenthood or caring duties come along. With out-of-date portfolios, a career gap and a biased recruitment sector, the barriers to re-entry are huge. The most forward-thinking brands and agencies in the UK are our founding partners, helping us build a sustainable programme, which we aim to grow year-on-year."

Rachel Gott, founder of Apple&Ink and programme director for SheSays ‘WhosYourMomma’ mentoring programme will be leading the application process. "We are looking for creative women who have been out for an extended break who want to refresh their skills with some of the top creatives in the industry – and can find a job they love in companies who are open to flexible working, with job shares, part-time work or compressed hours," she says. "We will upskill in digital skills, explore the latest creative work with D&AD and run briefs from brands like Facebook. The programme is free for returners, plus there is a ‘Creative comeback’ fund available to women who need financial assistance."

Tim Lindsay, CEO of D&AD, a key partner for the programme, says: "Our business depends on talent; but as an industry we're not very good at finding it or keeping it. Everyone knows now that more diverse, better gender-balanced companies outperform their competitors. And everyone knows that our clients want us to do something about it - as they themselves are doing. Yet, criminally, we make it almost impossible for women who've taken a career break to return to work. Never mind the issues of fitness and social justice - it's plain bad for business."

The scheme’s headline partner, Facebook’s Creative Shop, has already piloted a ‘Returners’ programme with Creative Equal, ‘BackHer’. Jenny Durgan, programme manager EMEA, commented: "Whether they are mums or individuals who have taken time off and need support, we will be providing hands-on training, tools and expertise for how to build creative campaigns for our platforms, as well as offering a support network that exists long after the bootcamp."

Emily DeGroot, programme director, added: “We are urging companies to get involved to support these returners and to gain access to some of the world’s best influencers. They close the gender pay gap, inject fresh thinking into creativity and create role models for younger women coming into the industry.”

Progressive companies committed to supporting the scheme so far include: AMV BBDO, BBH London, M&C Saatchi, Karmarama, AnalogFolk, Grey London, Havas, DDB Remedy, St Lukes, Jellyfish, Adam&EveDDB, MRM//McCann, Wunderman, Huge, Lego, RAPP, Nike Girl Effect, Brilliant Basics, RPM, We are Social, The Marketing Store, MullenLowe, Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Uncommon London, Wavemaker, Iris Worldwide, Toaster, Wieden+Kennedy, Isobel, Geometry, ForPeople, Unit 9 and The Dots, who will be involved in promoting this talent.

To find out more about the scheme, click here.

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