Ali Hanan: Seeking equality within creativity Interviews

Ali Hanan founded Creative Equals to respond to the gender inequality seen across the advertising industry in creative roles at senior level.

What inspired you to start Creative Equals?

Statistically the gender balance of design students is 50/50, however this changes very quickly once people enter the world of work, and women disappear the further up the career ladder you look. I want to do something about that.

What do you hope to achieve through Creative Equals?

I want to see fair representation of women in senior creative roles in the advertising industry. If so few women are making the media, is it any wonder that a very particular view of females is being perpetuated? We need to see a balance at the top of the creative industries, so that a wider representation of voices can be projected.

In 2008, only 3% of Creative Directors were women. Today in London, it’s 12%. At this rate it would take almost 40 years to reach gender equality at the highest level. I want to fast track that process and give women a clear route to senior creative roles.

How do you plan to do this?

I want to create more role models and pathways to success for women, so that they know they can attain the next career milestone. Currently women are generally not mentored or developed in the advertising world, and there are clear steps to be taken to change this, such as ‘Returnships’ to help women get back into the workplace after having a family. My role is to go into creative agencies and create a hiring plan and consult on how to bring the agency up to a 50/50 male/female ratio. Not only is this of benefit to women, but it makes good business sense for agencies too. Studies show teams are more profitable, stable and create better solutions with a gender balance. Clients such as General Mills, Verizon and Hewlett Packard want to see women represented in creative agencies, as they want to make sure that they hire a team who can speak to all of their potential customers.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

Seek forgiveness, not permission. If you’ve got a great idea, go out there and do stuff and then see what happens. Be action-focused and don’t wait.

Creative Equals is hosting #CEFutureleaders on Thursday 30 March. Speakers include Sandi Toksvig and Rosie Arnold. More information can be found here.

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