News: London’s creative sector has failed to diversify – how can we change that?

The report, supported by Swarovski Foundation, suggests that class and ethnicity can too often determine a young person’s success in gaining employment or progressing within London’s creative and cultural industries, with women also underrepresented in senior jobs. Photos by Ketishia Vaughan

Removing the barriers to entry
Interviews with young people identified a number of barriers that lock many out of London’s creative sector. These include:

  • Being unable to afford unpaid internships
  • Being ill-equipped to adapt to unstructured career paths like freelance working
  • Not knowing the right people

Many cultural institutions recognise that the sector needs to change, but more needs to be done to ensure all businesses follow their lead. Centre for London are calling on the sector to:

Pay interns fairly for their time
Unpaid internships create a gap between those that can afford to do them and those that can’t. All internships in the creative and cultural industries should be paid at least the National Minimum Wage, and subject to The Mayor’s “Good Work Standard”; larger cultural employers should offer at least the London Living Wage for internships and entry-level roles.

Create a London-wide mentoring programme
Educational institutions and employers should work together to develop and implement a formal mentoring programme, with specific targets for take-up by young people belonging to underrepresented groups. Though some local initiatives currently exist, these should be implemented across London.

Amend recruitment practices
The creative and cultural employers, and universities and colleges offering relevant courses, should amend recruitment practices to focus on creative talent, potential, and measurable skills such as team playing, rather than focusing on academic achievement – which can reflect background as much as ability.

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