I recognize and have had many stories of gender bias and discrimination shared with me over my decades of experiences. Anecdotally, I know these experiences stall and deter women and people of color as they advance in the creative industry. Unfortunately, there has been limited research that explores the factors that have led to disproportionate barriers for women and people of color as they pursue creative careers.
Much of the research on diversity in various creative fields focuses on the representation of diverse talent entering and advancing in the industry. Studies like “Artists in the Workforce” by the National Endowment of the Arts and AIGA’s 2016 Design Census help build the case that women enter the creative industry in comparable numbers to men but do not advance at the same pace. For people of color, the challenges extend beyond advancement as we see a dearth of representation in the pipeline.
A new Adobe study, based on the findings from a survey of 750 U.S. creative professionals, reveals the unique barriers for women and people of color in their pursuit of a creative career. Creativity’s Diversity Disconnect finds systemic challenges cause creatives of color to start at a disadvantage. Creatives of color are twice as likely as white creatives to perceive a lack of access to tools and training as a significant barrier.
Women face a steep climb in their career progression. Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of women feel that their gender will negatively impact future success (compared to 14 percent of men). Creatives of color feel the barriers to success more intensely than their white colleagues. They are also less likely to feel valued at work.
Click below to see key takeaways from the report:
But, there is good news. The vast majority of creative professionals understand that diversity is not only the right thing to do but also makes business sense. Eighty-two percent believe their best work was produced by a diverse team. This mirrors my own experience. Creative teams that include people with multiple perspectives, backgrounds, and life experiences tend to push one another toward better ideas and products. There is high agreement across race and gender (eighty-seven percent average overall) that a diverse workforce should be an industry priority.
As a partner and contributor to the creative community, Adobe is in a unique position to do something more meaningful. It is our responsibility. The research is just the beginning. Adobe will continue to build on this body of work through additional discussions and partnerships with the creative community.
Individuals have a role to play, as well. In my role as Vice President of Design at Adobe, I aim to inspire the next generation of leaders – leaders from different genders, races, and ethnicities who can bring to bear new designs and innovations that appeal to an increasingly diverse customer. I, personally, pledge to encourage more open dialogue to ensure every contributor on my team feels their ideas are heard and valued. I will also continue to serve as a role model and mentor for other women coming up the ranks. The study underscores the importance of seeing others like you at the top. I have a responsibility to ensure that I do not remain one of the few.
How do you plan to address creativity’s diversity disconnect? Use #CreativityforAll to share the findings from this study and actions you commit to taking to address the outlined barriers and challenges for women and creatives of color. Creativity for all begins with you.