5 Ways to improve diversity in your design agency
18 MAR 2019

Published by Kandice Menzie


5 Ways to improve diversity in your design agency

Diversity in design; it’s a topic that has been much-debated recently, and rightly so.

In the UK, figures show that 63% of creative job roles were filled by men and only  37% by women, making it one of the worse sectors for diversity (men make up 53% of workers across the whole of the UK workforce and women 47%*).

It is worrying, as work put out by the creative sectors often sets societies perception of others. Equality is especially essential within sectors such as marketing, as a diverse team is the only way to ensure that messages put out are sensitive to and representative of societal changes.

Work by McKinsey & Company consultants has shown that racially and ethnically diverse companies are more likely to have better than average financial returns and greater gender diversity on senior executive teams can boost performance.

Simply put, failing to diversify affects business opportunities.

So how can you improve inequality within your workplace, not only in gender but in areas where huge disparities also exist, like race, disability, sexuality, age and socioeconomics? Well, these actions could have a positive impact.

1.    Ensure your candidate shortlist is diverse

If you are putting together a list of potential candidates to employ or promote, ensure that the list contains individuals from a spectrum of races, genders and backgrounds. It will be easy to find talent that is both qualified and diverse;… if you try hard enough.

2.    Make your pay-scale transparent

Females are less likely than their male counterparts to negotiate a higher salary; this is partly down to confidence but also because they’re unsure about what to actually ask for. One way of counteracting this is by making sure salary ranges for your roles are communicated, giving women reasonable parameters to negotiate between. 

3.    Set a time for salary negotiations

Females in product design earn £7,000 less per year than men in the field and female graphic designers earn £4,000 less**

Don’t wait for your employees to approach you before a discussion about salaries is had. Certify that reviews will take place for everyone on the team at a set date to make certain that the less confident members who are unlikely to initiate talks about money  – usually women or those from minority backgrounds - receive a fair appraisal.

4.    Employ a flexible approach to working

A disabled Packaging Designer who cannot make it into the office daily, or a Strategist who has commitments preventing them from starting work before 9 am. Both creatives may be the best people for the job but would most likely miss out on the opportunity because they cannot commit to traditional working hours.

By adopting flexible working, creative agencies can benefit from a whole new, much deeper pool of talent.

By making the most of technological advances that make remote working possible, creative agencies will allow a wider breadth of talent to enter the conversation.

Whilst 70% of graphic design students are women, only 11% reach creative director level, showing how women drop off the pay and promotion scale as they progress in their careers***

A reason why the gender pay gap still exists is the lack of flexible work available to women who have children. Quite often women must sacrifice their position on the career ladder for the sake of starting a family.  And if they do decide to return to employment, these women often must undercut themselves by accepting part-time work outside of their desired sectors, because it’s the only work available which accommodates to their responsibilities.

Be it allowing employees to choose their hours or work remotely, loosening the restrictions on work could benefit both employer and employee.

 If you need a further example of how flexible working benefits creatives read our interview with mum and marketer Michelle King.

5.    Appoint a Diversity Manager

If your organisation can justify it, employ somebody who’s sole responsibility is to reduce bias in recruitment and promotion by being an impartial reviewer of decisions. They will also monitor diversity within the organisation and deal with any issues which may arise around the subject. 

This accountability can improve the representation of minorities in your organisation and improve the wellbeing of those already on your team. 










The Design Economy – the design economy, July 2018*

Office for National Statistics (ONS) March 2018**

Explore the gender pay gap – Office for National Statistics (ONS) October 2017***


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