The battle for diversity within the creative industries will be a lengthy one, but agencies are aware of their responsibility for change and steps are already in place to make sure 31 percent of university graduates currently working as interns no longer do so for no pay.
Following the encouraging global celebration of female creatives for International Women’s Day, more than 30 leading UK creative agencies have pledged to pay anyone working within, or for, the agency – permanent and freelance – a real living wage as a minimum, including interns and those on work experience over the age of 18.
Saatchi & Saatchi, Y&R London, WCRS, Lucky Generals and 30 other agencies have signed up to the Real Living Wage Pledge, launched by independent creative agencies Creature and Wieden+Kennedy London. Agencies who sign up promise to pay everyone working for them a living wage of £10.20 per hour in London and £8.75 everywhere else, as calculated by the Living Wage Foundation. This living wage should cover everyone from cleaners to permanent staff and freelancers, in a bid to close up loopholes that could leave out interns or adults on work experience for example, who aren’t currently covered by the Living Wage Foundation’s accreditation. The real living wage is based on the cost of living, compared to the Government’s current National Living Wage of £7.50 per hour for those aged 25 and over. This will rise to £7.83 on April 1.
It’s no secret that the creative sector – which employs more than two million people and contributes almost £92 billion to the UK economy – has struggled with diversity of all forms, such as gender, socio-economic and cultural, not to mention London’s lack of affordable studio space. The number of unpaid internships has doubled since 2010, but the monthly cost to an intern working in London averaging more than £1,000.
Where initiatives such as Double or Nothing aim to promote mentorship for women and mothers in the creative sector, and The Creative Network aims to help underrepresented young people begin a creative career, the Real Living Wage Pledge hopes to make sure no one should ever feel a career in the creative industry is unrealistic due to financial reasons.
“In the past, we’d ask for relevant experience, and then too often not pay people when they’re trying to get it, which means the doors to our industry are shut to people who can’t afford to work for free,” says co-founder of Creature, Dan Cullen-Shute.
The Pledge is supported by the AAR, IPA, Oystercatchers and Grey London’s Diversity Taskforce. All participating agencies will seek accreditation from the Living Wage Foundation (LWF) if they don’t already have it.
“A simple thing we can all do to remove a barrier to entry to the industry is to ensure we pay people in entry level positions enough to live,” says managing director of Wieden+Kennedy London, Helen Andrews.
Other creative agencies who’ve signed up to the Real Living Wage Pledge include 1492, 18 Feet & Rising, Above & Beyond, AMV BBDO, AnalogFolk, Anomaly, BJL, The Corner, Creature, Droga5, Essence, Everything Different, Grey London, Integer and Isobel.
If you wish to sign up, contact [email protected]