Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop Take Me To The Shop
Community

Why We Still Need To Talk About Diversity In Creative Industries

by Michaela d'Artois

@jonesy_b_

• By Michaela d'Artois

In the last few years, we’ve seen many creative industries subjected to scrutiny for the lack of visibility and diversity across the board. Forced to confront white-washed standards of what both beauty and corporate environments look like, long overdue conversations started happening. When it all came to a boil last spring, it felt like a reckoning; everywhere you looked, retailers, industry leaders, and publications alike were being held accountable for their lack of inclusivity. However, the short attention span of the internet swiveled, and attention went elsewhere. The conversation all but faded into the background once more.

Recently, writer and editor Isiah Magsino posed a powerful question in his article “Diversify Executive Leadership.” for Anti-Racism Daily: “How can an industry parade its interest in diversity, while still prohibiting Black and Brown talent from the decision-making process?” We heard a lot of lofty promises, but did we see much follow-through? What actions must be taken after public declarations?

I sat down for a socially-distanced conversation with Brittnie Jones, content creator and Director of Candid Network a platform that connects some of your favorite brands with cool creators — to speak about how each of us has our own role to play in this movement, what true inclusivity is, and how brands and individuals can implement the action behind the solidarity.

MD

For those reading this that don’t have the pleasure of knowing you, can you tell us a little bit about your background as a creative and how you came to your position at Candid? 

BJ

Sure thing, I’d love to! I’m Brittnie (she/her) and I am a Black American. Currently, I’m the Director of Candid Network. We operate within the creative space & digital marketing. At Candid, we connect dope creators & influencers with brands. A brand will reach out to us for their UGC needs (that’s shorthand for user-generated content) and we match them up with talented creators. Of course, there’s a lot more work that goes into it but you get the gist of it. Before Candid I was working in fashion, skincare, with a side of influencer marketing & PR.

MD

What drew you to the creative field? Has this always been how you express yourself?

BJ

I’m a creative soul. When I was younger it was expressed through playing the piano, dancing, drawing & sketching. As I got older I started tapping into design, styling, and modeling. Currently, I’m applying my creativity toward business development. There’s a lot of creativity that goes into developing a company. I was always creating something, and I still am.

MD

I wanted for us to expand on a conversation you and I have been having over the last few months which touches on how each of us has our part to play in amplifying BIPOC voices and closing the racial equity gap. Do you feel that as a human collective we have made progress in this direction?

BJ

After seeing my feed inundated with performative posts — you know the ones, proclaiming we stand in solidarity and Black Lives Matter, etc. — I witnessed brands, companies, and individuals acting super woke. Social media was buzzing with excitement, both the good and the bad. There were talks of intent, how we must do better, and demanding brands to be transparent and inclusive. But then this buzz just disappeared from the masses. Every bit of content that was being published no longer held this same sentiment. All of a sudden accountability stopped and these same people/companies settled back down to complacency. Their content just went back to the way it once was with zero diversity, minimal inclusivity, and at large, no real change ever really occurred.

MD

You use the word intent and I think you really hit the nail on the head there, because what is intent without action?

BJ

Performative allyship isn’t a new problem. You see it all the time within the media and outside of the media too.

MD

In spaces like social media and content creation, we often see a lack of inclusivity in the visuals we consume. I know you have taken a conscious shift to diversify your campaigns through Candid and amplify voices of color. What has this looked like for you?

BJ

Being that I am a woman and a person of color, I have first-hand experience of what it feels like being the only woman in the room, the only POC in the room, and if I’m really lucky (*inserting sarcasm here*) both! So when I stepped into this leadership role at Candid, I knew out the gate that I wanted to stress the importance of inclusion and diversity. It’s important to me that we set up structures that bring unique points of view into our space and within the work that we do.

For example, I noticed we had an amazing opportunity to refine our approach when it came to diversification & amplifying BIPOC voices within our projects. Within every campaign we work on, we’re bringing these voices into our pitches, regardless if our client has asked for them (or not), and we don’t stop there. If we notice a client approving only white or white-passing creators, we do bring it to their attention. Not to berate or chastise them, but simply to remind them of the opportunity they have to bring about inclusion. We give the brand a chance to take a beat and really think about their decisions and actions (or inactions). In the creative world specifically, the area in which Candid works this is one way we as a company can hold ourselves accountable and bring the brands and the people we work with to this same standard.

I also want to point out that it is of the utmost importance to us that we take the time to find not just cisgender BIPOC creators but those who are queer, nonbinary, and transgender. We’re also talking about body positivity, so size inclusivity, including disabled bodies, and so on and so forth. Truly, this list can go on and on because diversity and intersectionality exist. When we say inclusivity, we really mean it.

MD

You’re setting a no BS standard. What do you hope to see from other agencies or brands as we move into an era in which to not diversify is just as much of a statement as it is to do so?

BJ

Most companies claim that they’re inclusive (literally no mainstream brand/company wants to be known for otherwise). If a company states inclusivity as a top priority, then their words and actions must walk hand in hand, not only when it’s convenient for them. So please practice what you preach!

You don’t need to sit around and wait for your client to bring up diversity and inclusion — start doing it yourself.

MD

You and I have talked a lot about allyship. Is there something you hope to see from your white clients, community, and friends?

BJ

Please don’t wait around for your BIPOC friends or colleagues to speak up on injustices and/or expect them to do the work for you. Discrimination isn’t just their problem. It’s everyone’s problem as it’s a flaw within our society, not just those who are being directly affected by it. I mentioned earlier that Candid is setting up structures to help with inclusion, but at the same time this isn’t solely our responsibility. It must be a collaborative effort from both parties, between agencies and clients. Specifically within the digital world, agencies, brand/social managers, coordinators, PR agencies, and those alike are really the gatekeepers. You don’t need to sit around and wait for your client to bring up diversity and inclusion — start doing it yourself.

Lastly, if you’re being told it’s too hard to find BIPOC creators or think that it is, it’s not. If you are having difficulties it’s most likely due to the type of content you’re publishing & consuming. Think about it: the algorithm is designed to mirror your engagement, so if what you’re posting about or commenting on is lacking diversity, you’re creating an ecosystem that has zero representation of BIPOC voices – which is a clear indication that it’s time to switch it up!

MD

A lot of the allyship we see takes place on social media, and so does a lot of this creative work, but as we know now, that’s not enough. How can brands take this conversation off social media and into real-world action?

BJ

It is equally as important for companies to take the lead in providing a more healthy and inclusive work environment, just as much as they do within their digital branding. I think the easiest place to start is holding unbiased and inclusion training sessions and make them mandatory for yourself and your staff. Absolutely no one is above putting in the work! Don’t be shy about having a conversation with your colleagues and staff about ways you all can improve. Set actionable goals and then hold yourself and your teammates accountable. Maybe that means it’s time to revise your dress code or acknowledge Juneteenth as a company holiday in observance of its importance within US history. Whatever it is, provide a safe space, have these conversations, and get started.

If you’re a company or agency finding themselves working or living within a gentrified neighborhood, give back to that community. Make donations, help with trash pick up, take part in community fridges, find ways to collaborate with that community’s creatives and thought leaders, both young and old. And for the love of god, please stop viewing these concepts and ideas as “political” because they’re not. That way of thinking is outdated and only serves one narrative. We as a society are much more complex than that.

Most importantly, hire BIPOCS within executive positions (emphasis on the S because I’m talking multiple not singular   we are not monolithic). Think about it, if you as a brand are to only use BIPOC talent in marketing but have zero reflection of diversity internally, we’ll then you’re just using people for their likeness & benefiting from that, and that’s wrong on so many levels. All in all, don’t talk about it — be about it!

MD

I’ve watched you step into your voice over the last year and use your platforms and communities to speak about these issues. What has this journey of the last year changed or ignited in you?

BJ

I feel energized, loved, emboldened, and certainly protective. I am fully aware I have been given my own set of privileges and just want to use my level of influence & power to make space for others. From the bottom of my heart, I just want to contribute to making this place better than how I found it. The only thing that exhausts me is the constant sharing and re-sharing of Black trauma. Being Black in America is not easy but we have so much more to share with the world than just the pain and suffering that is forced upon us. We are a community rich with creativity, love, and passion!