If you're 'bored of diversity' in the creative industries, you're bored of what fuels brilliant work

What a weekus horribilus for Justin Tindall. It all started on a yellow-skied Tuesday when Campaign pressed 'publish' on a piece in which he claimed he was "bored of diversity being prioritised over talent".

If you're bored of diversity, you're not doing it right, says Lotte Jones
If you're bored of diversity, you're not doing it right, says Lotte Jones

The piece sparked a subsequent backlash led by the likes of Ford’s chief, Musa Tariq and Jonathan Mildenhall, formerly of Airbnb.

Following a superb riposte from Caitlin Ryan, Justin said he was sorry. He knew he’d been a naughty boy.

I am actually very glad he made this comment.

I’m glad because it highlights a behaviour many of us are all too familiar with: those small innocuous comments.

And that’s exactly what it was – a small comment within a long list of other stuff he was bored of. Stuff like boring old driverless cars and boring old artificial intelligence.

This has little to do with who he is.

It does, however, have everything to do with those often-unnoticeable remarks many people make and receive on many days across many industries.

Those little comments we barely notice or have time to question before the conversation moves on.

And when these throwaway words go unaddressed, they become like little leaks that get more serious and damaging to the system.

They bind together and gather volume to become a collective force that holds back the very people terms like ‘diversity’ are used to include and encourage.

It seems to me that to be bored of diversity is to be bored of the one thing that truly fuels brilliant work.

Lotte Jones, creative director at Teneo Blue Rubicon

And veiling these opinions in a refusenik attitude that’s a Werther’s Original and a pair of sensible slippers away from something your grandad might say. It shouldn’t get met with an eye roll.

It should be fervently and intelligently tackled in exactly the way the likes of Caitlin Ryan, Cindy Gallop and hundreds of other women have before me in the last 24hrs.

This week I had the honour of hosting an event with members of the PRCA, exploring what’s holding women back from following creative careers in our industry.

I won’t bore you with a litany of stats on why this event was necessary – with any luck they wouldn’t surprise you anyway.

This wasn’t a group of Faye Wheldons being told by male bosses to be "pleasing to the eye" as she famously was back in the day.

This was a group experiencing such small and subtle behaviours, we often barely even pick up on them: turning to the woman in the meeting to ask who’s ordering the taxi to the next meeting; failing to ask the only woman in the room about a creative campaign targeting women; or simply talking over her.

It’s these smaller, subtle, more insidious behaviours that get said or happen so fast we barely notice them.

That’s why we all have a duty to take note of seemingly playful, contrary opinion. We should never bore of correcting it.

But if I park my sisterly outrage for one second here, it’s also clear that there’s one pervasive point that sits aside from the nuances of gender, race, age or educational background; it has to do with creative output.

It seems to me that to be bored of diversity is to be bored of the one thing that truly fuels brilliant work.

It’s to be bored of welcoming in a range of experiences; bored of a range of backgrounds that influence different thinking; bored of different lenses through which people see the world.

By its very definition, a lack of diversity creates an echo chamber of the same thinking.

A lack of diversity stunts truly creative work that works.

Lottë Jones is one female creative director to every ten male creative directors in the UK. She works at Teneo Blue Rubicon and is vice chair of the PRCA Creative Group

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