Diversity within the advertising industry is still a work in progress.
With only 11.4 percent of industry employment being held by people of color and only 11.5 percent of creative directors in the United States being women, young creatives can run into many difficulties when embarking on their creative journeys.
One Club, originally established in 1961, is a diverse tribe of creative thinkers and doers who believe creativity is the most powerful element to business success, has made it their mission to create more opportunities for young Black creatives by launching initiatives such as ‘One School’ and ‘Where Are All the Black People?’
“One School is the first portfolio school for Black creatives. It runs for a course of 16 weeks and allows creatives to get experience working on real briefs from real brands for free. Participants also gain mentorship from some of the best professionals in the industry which is good for people of color who generally get overlooked by ad agencies,” Dominique Wynne, Leadership Head at One School, said.
The One School is dedicated to closing the gap for Black creatives in an industry that earns so much off of Black culture. Other factors such as unconscious bias and lack of opportunity play a huge role in the creative sector as well. One School utilizes resources to help combat these hurdles and get Black creatives the proper recognition they deserve.
“I started at One School as a mentor for the students. My first step was getting one on one time with these new Black creatives starting with building up their self confidence. The further you go in this industry you look around and you don’t see anyone who looks like you. Being a mentor also means being an advocate. I make sure the students I mentor actually have access to other creatives that I may know. I do my due diligence in making sure the creatives coming up have access to the rooms they need to be in,” Wynne said.
Furthermore, Where Are All the Black People is another initiative that One Club offers to create diversity within advertising.
“Where Are All the Black People is a diversity conference and career fair which serves as a one stop shop for diverse creatives and support for Black creatives,” Adrienne Lucas, Leadership Head of Where Are All the Black People, said.
Both One School and Where Are All the Black People have altered their once in-person only programs into virtual only due to COVID-19 health concerns.
“Typically an in-person event has 900-1000 attendees. At first we were really worried and we didn’t know how to execute this large digital conference. We had to pivot quickly, our virtual event had 3600 attendees, we realized we had a larger reach with people spanning from Canada to South Africa. We’re never going back to in-person only events again,” Lucas said.
Additionally, two years at a top portfolio school can cost upwards of $40,000 which many young Black creatives cannot afford. These initiatives offer alternatives for participants in gaining the credentials they need to navigate and excel in the advertising industry without drowning themselves in debt.
“We offer creative bootcamps which are international programs for diverse college students to get into the industry. We partner with agency sponsors and at the end there are many of them actually looking to hire interns. It’s another way to get your foot in the door if you don’t have experience,” Lucas said.
“Being a creative, especially a Black creative, I like to always say that is in you. Black creatives have that secret sauce no one else has. It’s taking your experiences, what you believe in and transforming them into new innovations to implement them into creative strategies,” Wynne said.