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Female-focused ‘returners’ programme for ad sector #CreativeComeback opens for entries

The programme that helps women in the creative sector return to the workplace after a career break- may that be due to childcare or an illness– is now open for entries

Female-focused programme #CreativeComeback which helps women in the creative sector return to the workplace after a career break- may that be due to childcare or an illness– has announced that it is now open for entries.

The programme is an initiative by inclusion organisation, Creative Equals, with support from Diageo and D&AD, the global association for creative design and advertising.

This International Women’s Day #CreativeComeback aims to #BreakTheBias in the creative departments.

Just as many women step up into critical creative director roles, they take a career break for various reasons, including childcare and caring for family relatives. Once they leave, the bias in re-entering the workplace and lack of flexibility, means it’s impossible for them to return.

Advertising creatives are only considered as good as ‘their last piece of work’. With a CV gap of more than a year and a fast-changing consumer landscape of evolving social media trends, against their male candidates who never have a ‘gap’, returning female creatives are quickly considered ‘out-dated’, offered lower positions or even accept demoralising pay cuts.

As training partners, D&AD will spend two weeks in March upskilling participants on ideation, strategy, presentation skills, innovations and trends.

Chief Executive of Creative Equals, Ali Hanan, said, “Losing women at this critical juncture in their careers means there are few women creative directors in India. Creative directors curate the media billions of Indian women see. As a study by the Unicef and the Geena Davis institute shows, advertising doesn’t portray the modern Indian woman who is tech-savvy and discerning, instead perpetuating potentially harmful stereotypes. Without gender equality at creative leadership, brands could be missing out on millions of rupees of potential revenue, as more than 85% of purchasing decisions are made by Indian women across all categories, from insurance to cars to homes.”

Paul Drake, Foundation Director of D&AD, said, “We have seen the success of this programme in London and New York, where 80% of participants go on to find employment. We will spend two weeks 7 - 17 March upskilling returners on ideation, strategy, presentation skills, innovations and trends from our awards programme so they are equipped with the right knowledge for the jobs market.”

Deepika Warrier, CMO Diageo India, said, “At Diageo, inclusion and diversity is central to our purpose of celebrating life, every day, everywhere and we’re committed to creating a working culture in which our people feel like they belong and can bring their authentic selves to work. Today for example, 22% of Diageo India’s overall workforce (as against 7.5% in 2015), four of eight executives in the Excom are women. In our brand and creative side, over 45% of our content work has been led, directed or portrayed by women creators, and over 10% of our work by creators on the gender identity spectrum. We will continue this focus on gender equality and equity throughout the globe, specifically at the creative table, as we know gender equality makes for better, more representative advertising. We know women ‘are 11 times more likely to not work after COVID job loss,’ (The Times Of India, 2021) and also step out during certain life stages and then find it difficult to hit their stride when they return. This is particularly true of the creative industry sector. Creative Comeback helps the industry #BreakTheBias by changing the view on CV gaps to being ‘gifts’. We know when women take a career break, their life experiences bring them back with a deeper perspective.”

FCB and Virtue Worldwide agencies have signed up to the programme.

Tejali Shete, a Mumbai-born creative who experienced the programme in London, credits it with her success. “What I gained the most was a renewed confidence in myself as the rooms echoed with powerful voices telling us that there’s nothing that we couldn't achieve. We worked on a brief set by the programme sponsor, Diageo. My team went on to win the best presentation, with help from our creative mentor from one of the partner agencies, leading us to getting a ‘returnship’ work placement at my dream ad agency in London. I went on to set up my own agency, but wanted big agency experience. I’m now an Associate Creative Director at Grey London/AKQA Group and a judge for Snapchat’s Creative Council. I can’t wait to see India’s creative sector embrace this programme and bring more women back.”

Swati Bhattacharya, Creative Chairperson, FCB India, said, “FCB strives to support diversity at its very core, and is proud to have outstanding female leaders in creative and business roles across the world. I really do believe that something happens to our brains after childbirth. I for one got sharper...maybe it's the sleepless nights and chronic worrying. So, I am over the moon to partner #CreativeComeback in this mission to get mamas back on the saddle at work. Everything they have learnt during their hiatus is everything an organisation needs to be - fierce and diverse.”

Returners who would like to take part in the programme can apply through the link-

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