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How does it feel being ‘diverse’?

By Adam Hallows and Chrissie Butcher

How does it feel being ‘diverse’? Our latest recruits from the JOLT diversity programme give us an insider view.


"To be honest, this feels like we’ve hit the jackpot.


Just two placements in and we’re at Campaign’s ‘Best Large Agency to Work 2018’.


So who are ‘we’?


We’re Chrissie and Adam, a creative team who met thanks to a ‘wanted’ ad on Single Creatives and a Quality Street tin dressed as a birthday cake.


And we’re here thanks to JOLT - the diversity program Proximity joined last year to train creatives from all walks of life.


Our ‘diversity’ is that having worked in other industries (the building industry, watch design), we join today not as ad school grads, but older career changers. Oh, and Chrissie’s a woman*.


For a little context, JOLT was founded by AK Creative’s Andy Knell and former ACD Fiona Clark. It’s the first ever inter-agency Creative Diversity Internship Scheme, aimed at ‘driving diversity in creative departments to break down the invisible walls of exclusion’.


To do so, JOLT has partnered with several organisations. SheSays, to help find female interns; NABS to find over-50 creatives; Scope to source creatives with disability; Creative Access to help find BAME creatives; Future Rising to help find creative graduates who don’t come from an advertising course; and D&AD New Blood Shift to provide non-graduate creatives.


As an early adopter, Proximity is leading the way in a growing list of top agencies including Mother, Pablo, GTB, BBC Creative, VCCP Blue and Digitas LBI.


From where we’re sitting it’s easy to see why. In the short time we’ve been at Proximity we’ve had an incredibly warm welcome, benefited from a whole season of agency training, worked on numerous briefs – and we get free breakfast! We really can’t complain.


What we do realise however, is the importance for more creatives to benefit from this wonderful set-up. Without JOLT, we would have found it hard to get here. Every time we spoke to recruiters we faced the same question – what agencies have you worked at already?


Yes we may have complementary experience in our more recent roles as a copywriter (Adam) and production design (Chrissie), but with no in-house ad agency experience, the conversation usually went the same way.


For others, the challenge is greater. Apparently, only 8% of senior positions are held by someone who’s black or from a minority ethnicity, and 90% of young female creatives say they lack role models.


We can’t say definitively why this is. But everyone we’ve heard talking about diversity agrees it must improve. Britain is hugely diverse, meaning its consumers are too, so why shouldn't those creating the ads reflect that?


The chance to work with and learn from experienced, talented creatives and experts across every department is quite literally life-changing. And with six teams currently on placements, and some already getting work out the door, the future looks bright for JOLT – and for diversity.


As outsiders looking in, it was clear we just needed a break – a jolt, if you will – to open the door. So, now we’re in we just need to prove ourselves worthy of staying."


Chrissie and Adam operate as Butch & Hall, were extended at their first placement at Pablo and will be at Proximity until mid-April 2018.


*The low representation of women in creative roles is one area JOLT wants to address. Women only represent 13% of creative directors and a recent study showed 70% of female creatives work in a department with a 75-25% male to female split.