The value of diverse workforces has been a prominent subject across businesses worldwide for many years now. As more and more research surfaces revealing the substantial impact that variety has on innovation, it has become evident that diversity is critical for business.
For ENVY Advertising’s co-founder and creative director Natascha Cadle however, this is nothing new. Personally identifying with a number of different cultures (she was born in the Netherlands to a Dutch father and German mother with English and Polish grandparents), Natascha has had a plethora of influences growing up and believes that multicultural individuals commonly think, perceive, behave, and respond to workplace issues in different ways than monocultural individuals.
“By their ability to function in more than one culture and knowing multiple languages, multicultural individuals can think differently,” she describes. “Identification with more than one culture can help facilitate connections with others and develop more complex thinking skills which can lead to creative solutions. When people understand more than one culture, they see new ways to combine them, leading to innovation - and that is good for any company.”
It is no surprise then, that ENVY’s team has been shaped as a multicultural melting pot of creatives from all different backgrounds.
For VFX assistant Claudia, representation in the ad industry is of high importance: “It's not just white males who buy trainers, cars, home insurance, etc. We need creative output from all backgrounds to create fresh and innovative content that can appeal to different markets out there. It is important to think about who is watching.”
“Creating content that resonates with people from all walks of life is so important,” comments bookings assistant, Valerie Martynenko. “A team made up of the same perspectives leaves too much opportunity for missing the mark when it comes to wider audiences. I like to use the example of men’s and women’s public toilets. There is always a queue for the women and never for men.That’s because the toilets are designed in a way that does not consider the specific needs of the people who are using it. The same principle can be applied to film and TV - everybody deserves to be understood and catered for.”
Media operator Emmi Kivinen highlights that “this is why it is important to encourage multicultural and diverse talent to enter the industry - because exclusion means we’re missing vital voices and perspectives. I believe that a good working environment and a successful team is the sum of its members’ experiences and talents. Television should be for everyone, so the people behind the programmes should mirror the audiences. We don't have a homogeneous audience.”
“Culturally diverse companies can help put an end to the concept that the film/TV industry is mainly for people of privileged background,” notes bookings assistant Sara Veiga. “It is crucial for companies to support diverse hires, and to help their employees grow professionally by providing them with the skills and tools to perfect their crafts.”
Compassion and Comradery
Speaking to the team at ENVY, you can sense how much they appreciate being part of such a multicultural working environment. But it doesn’t come without some challenges.
“It is true that bringing different perspectives together can achieve great and unconventional results, but having been part of many international teams I have found that it’s important to learn to understand each other too,” reveals Valerie. “The same words may mean slightly different things among various translations of the words, so listening and sincerely wanting to understand someone is a key part of great results.”
“I’m from Ukraine and my worldview was formed in a country with troublesome and tragic modern history. I have witnessed the aftermath of the Soviet Union - destruction of culture, dignity and individualism,” she says. “In the UK those are carefully preserved. Everyone accepts you for who you are and does not judge your character by where you’re from.”
“At ENVY, I work with people from all sorts of backgrounds and solutions have always been found. There is a lot of compassion and comradery in my department, because at the end of the day, we’re all in the same boat, dealing with the same issues on a daily basis and everybody understands this. No matter your looks or your accent, you will be recognised by your work and not your culture.”
Audio assistant Robson Janser says, “When you’re from a different background there is always that worry of facing negative cultural stereotypes and prejudices, which can be challenging when trying to integrate into a team and have your voice heard. But a multicultural team tends to have more empathy towards each other, which improves the general communication within the workplace. We often exchange professional and personal experiences that give us the opportunity to learn and appreciate our differences.”
“If you want to nurture an incredibly diverse team, you need to be able to challenge your own biases,” warns Sara. “This is the main contribution to a successfully diverse company. Not only does it allow people from all different walks of life to fulfil their dreams, but it also promotes a healthy work environment.”
“Just listen to each other,” Valerie states. “People can have different religious beliefs, concepts of good and bad, and personalities, but you don’t have to agree with someone on everything for them to be your friend or a good work mate. Treat everyone equally, get to know people, ask them questions and accept that you’re not always going to be right.”
For Claudia, the key thing to remember is that “representation matters. Think about target audiences outside of the box. What’s current at the moment? What is getting people talking? What fresh ideas can you draw from people’s backgrounds? Has anyone made a TV programme about this subject matter before? All these questions help bring new creative ideas to the table. And don’t be afraid to ask questions about culture and race, never assume. Educate yourself.”
“I do feel that things are changing in the film and television industry,” Emmi concludes. “Having a diverse team stands for a lot. It’s an indicator of the company’s outlook and values and it’s wonderful that there is now more conversation than ever and that we pay attention to these things. Although this doesn’t mean that the work is done.”
“A multicultural background is a strength, but it shouldn’t be the key attribute that defines you. At ENVY, this hasn’t been the case for me, it’s my talent and skill that matter.”