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Transformation through Diversity: Featuring Laura Jordan Bambach

Posted on 17.02.2017

Laura Jordan Bambach is Chief Creative Officer at the award-winning creative agency, Mr. President. She is also a co-founder of SheSays and Cannt Festival and a member of D&AD’s Board of Trustees. Laura has won numerous awards, including recently ranking number 1 on The Drum’s Digerati list of 100 most influential digital individuals in the UK. She’s received an honorary doctorate from Norwich University of the Arts for "championing and encouraging women in design, creatively embracing digital technologies and engaging in design with a conscience".

We sat down with Laura to find out more about what she’s doing to transform the creative industry through diversity.

What does diversity mean to you/your business?

To me it’s about a diversity in skillsets, opinions, ideas, and points of view, and ways in approaching clients and challenges. Obviously by building a diverse team, people with different life experiences rather than a cultural consensus of people from the same place with the same degree, you will have that different perspective. That is super important to us.

What are the biggest challenges facing your industry in terms of diversity?

Representation of cultural diversity, disability and gender are still the big issues in creative departments. There is a challenge around how you hire, where you find diverse talent, and how you can support people who may not have had the classic education that normally leads to advertising.

People are becoming compartmentalised in their thinking and anything the industry can do to break that up a little bit is helpful.

Has your business launched any effective initiatives to improving equality and diversity?

Part of it is just being aware and understanding this is a business issue. It’s not just something that you are doing because it’s nice to have or you want to be kind to people, you are doing it because you believe more diverse ideas get you to more creative results and strategies.

We work with a lot of different groups to find interesting people – D&AD Shift or Commercial Break. We make sure that when we are interviewing, we look far and wide. There are lots of ways!

What should your industry do better to boost its diversity?

The style of creative leadership needs to change. We need training for creative leaders in how to empower a diverse team, how to maximise their great ideas, and how to become more supportive.

To get the best out of diverse teams, you need to take a completely different approach and manage the creative process. When you are trying to find a great idea from a diverse group of people, it can be much more uncomfortable. But that’s what creativity is all about. That experimentation and messiness and play – you have to embrace it.

What are you doing?

I have just helped co-found The Great British Diversity Experiment, a large scale practical experiment providing insight into why diversity works and how to leverage it. We look at whether diverse teams are better creatively and what the blockers are within agencies to creating diverse teams. And SheSays now has 40,000 members around the world, and we run events, mentoring and training for women in the industry, to help change things.

In theory, we all know that this is the right thing to do and it is better for business, but it has still been slow to shift.

Building a diverse business is a conscious decision in our hiring process and it’s embedded in how we lead teams and people at Mr. President. They have the freedom to approach things in a different way and ride through that messy stage to get to a great idea.

Photo credit: Tom Kavanagh

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