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Why Covid-19 has made CreativeComeback Business Critical this International Women’s Month



Creative Equals data shows how women in the creative industry have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and how the program aims to bring them back fighting

Why Covid-19 has made CreativeComeback Business Critical this International Women’s Month

The UK’s number of female creative directors has been inching up year-on-year to 19% in 2020. But during Covid-19 and the recent lockdowns, this gain has plummeted. While no organisation has our sector’s data yet, at Creative Equals, we hear of many creative women who have quit their jobs, unable to keep up with the pressures of combining homeschooling and work. This is consistent with TUC data, which showed that 71% of working mothers have been denied furlough, effectively forcing many women out of their jobs as they face an impossible choice. 

Creative agencies have been cutting their teams to run ‘lean’, and many working mothers have lost their jobs in company restructures that have inherent bias in the redundancy process. “It’s been impossible for working mothers to be fully present during working hours, and if one of the criteria for redundancy is attendance, they are unfairly selected for redundancy,” says Rachel Gott, Creative Equals’ Talent partner and founder of Apple&Ink. 

“After International Women’s Day, the best way we can #ChooseToChallenge is to hire returners, particularly after the impact of Covid-19, which has set last year’s returners back even further. This programme, run by Creative Equals, has a direct purpose to address the Covid-19 fall out and the lack of women represented in top creative leadership roles,” says Ali Hanan, CEO. The programme supports women who have had a career break and want to return to their creative careers. “Whether due to parental or caring responsibilities, serious illness, mental health, a disability, or a variety of other reasons, a career break should not have to be a contributing factor to the under-representation of senior women in the creative industries.” 

The May 202110-day programme, aiming to support 25-30 back into creative industries is free to attend, and is open to all women and non-binary people who've previously worked as a creative (art director, copywriter, designer or similar role) in the advertising, marketing and design industry. The programme arms them with the tools, knowledge and confidence to help them secure full-time or freelance employment in today's evolving job market, and involves best-in-class training from D&AD along with a mentor programme from partner agencies.  

With the backdrop, CreativeComeback2021 is launching for the third year running in partnership with D&AD and Diageo. Creative Equals’ partner, Eileen Hanna, Head of Standard Scotch and Lifestyle Whiskies says: ‘We believe the most inclusive and diverse culture makes for more creativity, and we are delighted to be working with Creative Equals on this programme, which we need now more than ever. Diageo is committed to celebrating diversity in line with our 2030 goals, and we are proud to be part of a programme which makes our industry more progressive.’ 

Eileen adds: “We have been a committed partner on the Programme for many years, and have seen the programme successfully completed in the UK and US amongst others. We will soon be seeing this programme again in the UK and we’re excited to be working on expanding to new regions like India and Australia, so we can bring more diverse voices back into the industry. As we celebrate International Women’s Month, this programme feels more important than ever.”

Progressive companies joining the programme include Edelman, Adam&EveDDB, Wieden & Kennedy, Anomaly, Fishawack, VMLY&R, VMLY&RCommerce, Geometry, Engine Group, MRMMcCann and WundermanThompson, with talent agency Major Players supporting the returner selection process. 

“The only way we can #ChooseToChallenge across this month is to hire women who have been hit by the impact of Covid-19,” says Creative Equals founder AliHanan.  

Like to join the programme as a returner? Apply here, deadline Monday 5th April. 

Like to get involved in the programme as an agency? Email 

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