It’s been widely reported that the number of women in creative leadership positions is incredibly low – “12% of Creative Directors are women” is one stat that is often cited. At Design Bridge we’ve fostered a culture where this simply is not the case and gender is not a factor when it comes to recruitment and career progression. In fact our Chief Creative Officer and 2 of our 4 Executive Creative Directors are female, and 3 of our 4 Managing Directors are women too. But outside of our walls there is a huge issue within our industry.
What is less widely reported is that women can sometimes be competitive or unsupportive of one another; a fact that Jessica Walsh, highly respected Creative and co-founder of the brilliant Sagmeister & Walsh, discovered a few years ago. In a bid to help make positive change happen, and to provide a platform for women to support other women in the creative careers, Jessica started Ladies, Wine & Design – a global network that brings women in the creative industry together through inclusive and supportive mentorship circles, portfolio reviews, talks and creative meet-ups.
After attending to an event run by the London chapter, Claire Robertshaw, our Executive Creative Director in London, felt inspired to get involved and volunteered to host a salon event in our Studio to share some of her experiences and initiate conversations with women from the wider creative community.
On a rainy Thursday at the end of February we welcomed Emilie, Mireia and Lisa from Ladies, Wine & Design along with a group of creatives who work across a variety of disciplines – from branding to advertising, experiential to illustration – to join us for a “Tete-a-tete” with Claire.
Claire kicked off by telling us a bit about her own story: growing up as the youngest of 3 kids nurtured her love of art (& a rather bossy streak), navigating education and work placements to land that elusive first job in the industry and thriving in a culture that has both pushed and supported her to develop to ECD at Design Bridge London delivering creative excellence and nurturing her team equally. And whilst she is hugely passionate about the importance of women in leadership positions, as a Mum raising three young boys, it’s a vision of equality that is the ultimate end game.
It was an evening of real debate and discussion around women working in creative roles as well as wider issues around diversity and equality, and many people shared their own experiences as well as asking the group for advice on their own personal situations.
What became a consistent theme throughout the evening was the idea of how empowerment can inspire confidence. People – not just women – need to feel empowered to gain the confidence to produce the very best creative work, and empowerment can come in many forms – having your voice heard, being able to share your opinions, having the creative freedom to run with an idea or a project, and feeling supported throughout all of this.
There was so much to talk about that our 2 hour session ended up running over by an extra hour, and we ended the evening in a room that was buzzing with positivity, ideas for change, and a real sense of community.
Want to attend or host a Ladies, Wine & Design event in your city? Check their website to find out how you can get involved.
A final special thank you to Luminary Bakery for supplying us with delicious baked goods to go with our wine and soft drinks. As a London-based social enterprise that supports and empowers women, we couldn’t have found a better or more appropriate treat supplier.