Ladies, Wine & Design with Jade Tomlin
Last week Jade Tomlin, Creative Director at Tribal Worldwide, spoke at monthly salon night Ladies, Wine & Design. This month, the conversation was all about the representation of women of colour in the creative industries. Here’s what she had to say about it after.
1. What were some of the key themes to come out of the talk?
There was a lot of discussion around bias in the workplace and its detrimental impact on individual performance and creative expression. Those who had experienced bias felt estranged from their company culture and found it harder to fit in. People were also keen to talk about how they could get a leadership role in the future.
2. Why do you think there are so few women of colour in leading positions?
I think it’s a mixture of things. There are very few women of colour in entry level positions which automatically means there are even fewer women of colour in leadership roles. Another common reason is that people tend to feel comfortable hiring people like themselves, which lends itself to bias behaviour.
3. What could be done to support women of colour in the creative industries?
Get to know them, hire them and really listen to their unique voice in the workplace. Truly believe they will be a safe pair of hands on a project. Take time to notice their difference and the strength that could bring to the table, don’t let them doubt their abilities, build them up and never watch them fall. If they are experiencing bias in a meeting, call it out
for them — they might be feeling out numbered. It’s sad that in 2018, this is something we have to question. I hope young women of colour do find the support they need in agencies, through mentorship and through supporting networks like the Other Box and Stripes.
4. What one piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Never give up. Despite the offensive comments or odd remarks you might receive. Over the years, I’ve dealt with co-workers who say things like; ‘but where are you really from?’ ‘You’re a woman, you wouldn’t understand.’ ‘Hi — you worked at X right? We’ve met before.’ (Nope you’ve just mistaken me for another mixed Asian colleague! I have a black female friend who had a similar mistaken identity when she was at Cannes). It can be wildly frustrating at times, but I’d encourage any young woman of colour or person of difference to stick around in agencies, particularly in the more challenging environments. Inflict change by showing up, doing a stella job and being present.
5. What was your favourite moment of the night?
The whole occasion was brilliant. I sensed representation was something many young women in the audience were keen to hear about. The sharing of heartfelt stories and personal successes was a real highlight. Araki Koman, a minimalist Illustrator & Designer from Paris, shared stories from her humble beginnings to creating artwork around the world. Towards the end of the night I had the realisation that this was likely to be the only time in my career when I’ll be on an all women of colour panel. We were chosen to represent minorities who’s talent is breaking through the creative industry, which is super cool.