A selection of blue, red and yellow shapes.

How to retain mid-level diverse talent in the creative industries

Posted on August 4, 2023

If we’ve learnt anything from our decade-long contribution to diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) work, it’s that the dial to access and conditions for under-represented talent to thrive has shifted, but more needs to be done to minimise barriers. We’re also seeing employers do a better job of putting their money where their mouth is on inclusive practices, however, our data suggests that under-represented talent is still getting stuck at mid-level, with a third (33%) of those who don’t receive developmental support received no promotion in the last year.

Our own annual Thrive report data on DE&I talent & employer progress towards diversity goals shows that whilst a large proportion of employers have encouragingly upped their DE&I spend in the last year (68%), almost half (45%) of employers across the creative economy are currently focusing that spend on entry-level talent. However, what a huge majority (70%) agree is that DE&I spend focus needs to be applied across all career levels in the next year.

So what does mid-level retention look like for diverse talent? And what immediate next steps can employers take to maximise employee satisfaction, progression and belonging?

  1. Sign your mid-level talent up to a development programme. We suggest something that provides diverse talent access to training, mentoring and networking to improve confidence, skills & knowledge needed to progress in their career. Having your employer offer up role models that reflect your experience is hugely validating and is a data-backed way to propel progress.
  2. Seek out employer training! And be intentional about follow-up activity. From ‘disability equity’ and ‘eliminating microaggressions’, to ‘anti-racism in the workplace’ and ‘championing neurodiversity’, structured and bespoke training that follows the latest governmental guidance and research can be of huge benefit to anyone in an influential position whether that be a manager of people, an under-represented individual themselves, as well as senior leadership. It’s also important to make sure the training allows for safe and open discussion that could lead to meaningful enhancements to your inclusivity practices.
  3. Mentoring… As previously mentioned, research shows that people from under-represented groups who advance the furthest in their careers, all share one characteristic – a strong network of mentors who nurture their professional development. Creative Access runs a range of mentoring programmes, including one for mid to senior level individuals through our development programme. Mentoring partnerships typically last six months and we ask that mentors commit to meeting with their mentee for approximately one hour per month. Once you’re allocated a mentee, you’ll be invited to attend a training workshop, be introduced to your mentee and provided guidance notes and a template mentoring agreement for you to complete together. You’ll be supported by Creative Access throughout the process.

What does Creative Access want for diverse talent at all levels?

First and foremost, Creative Access is a social enterprise that advocates for under-represented talent in the creative industries. We do this by minimising barriers to access and by fostering conditions for talent to thrive which looks like: roles spanning all stages of the career, plus career developing opportunities, support and training. However, we can’t do this work without the support and buy-in of employers in the creative economy, people who also want to actually do something about better representing communities from under-represented backgrounds.

Whether you’re an individual from an under-represented group looking to enhance your career and take the next step up, or an employer, make sure your hiring managers and HR leaders know about Creative Access’ career development programme aimed at mid-level professionals. Drop us a message at: info [at] creativeacess [dot] org [dot] uk to signal your interest!