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The devil, as always, is in the detail. It seems that there are certain roles that women are dominant in – such as account management and new business (both 77% female) – and others with quite an even split – planning and strategy is made up of 48% women.
Digital, however, is 82% male (although that is an improvement on the 90% last year) and creative roles has a 61% male bias.
The key to all of these (not withstanding the general lack of women in digital roles) is the diminishing ratio of women as seniority increases. Women make up only 30% of agency management roles and of course the graph showing the change in creative roles tells it’s own story.
Bear in mind that the design sector in general has a far worse record that the DBA graph shows. Female creative directors make up only 11% of the whole. DBA members are positively progressive in comparison!
Social media is buzzing with questions of “How do we change this?” and there is no easy answer. The lack of gender diversity is just one element of a far wider diversity problem in the design sector.
It is obvious where quite a few of the women go. Pointing out that they leave to have babies isn’t particularly helpful. A diverse workforce is good for business – so find ways of encouraging women to return. Make their role more flexible. Empower them. (Read some great advice from JourneyHR about this here.)
Small businesses without set processes are renowned for recruiting in their own image, the design industry is no different in that. Be aware of your bias when making staffing decisions.
Things are getting better. More women are taking the situation into their own hands and setting up their own agencies. There are many examples within the DBA membership.
If you really want to make a difference put policies in place to:
a) make sure women are not disadvantaged in the recruitment process
b) your agency is family friendly for whoever has childcare responsibilities, and
c) that women can progress up through your business.
The other thing you can do of course is join the DBA, if you’re not a member already. We are your trade association. We support you with running your business and represent you when it comes to lobbying government on issues affecting the industry (education and overseas recruitment being two of the hot issues of the moment).
Details at: dba.org.uk.
Read the full, unabridged version of this article here.
G. Crescoli | Unsplash
Lynne Dobney and United Studio’s Chris Bradley were paired as mentor and mentee in the Twenty/Twenty programme last year. Here they share their experiences and why they’d encourage you to get involved.
Lynne Dobney, Mentor: With a long (and quite varied) career in design, branding and coaching, it was great to be able use this to help other businesses facing issues at different times in their development.
Chris Bradley, Mentee: Our business is owned and run by myself and my partner of 20 years. We had a number of items on our agenda that we needed to work through (recruitment, business building, retirement, forward planning etc) and we both thought it would be worthwhile having an outside, objective view on some of the decisions – including some very personal ones – that we needed to make. We are a very busy studio so to have someone who I could chat to offline, without bothering my partner who was busy on project based tasks, was great.
Lynne Dobney, Mentor: It’s been fun, and I’ve learned new things. I’ve met some really great people, who’ve become friends.
Chris Bradley, Mentee: I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. My mentor Lynne and I got on really well – we were very well suited (well done to the DBA for doing their homework). She has oodles of experience and has dealt with many of the issues we discussed.
Also, getting away from the daily studio tasks to think down the line was a really good discipline for me. Things that we had been putting off or just never got round to doing were getting addressed.
Chris Bradley, Mentee: Lynne has made me think more about forward planning and we are a better-run studio for it. She also confirmed that a lot of what we do is good, sound practice, which was great to hear from someone who ran a large, successful business. You just never know when you are doing it in isolation. We have and will continue to work with Lynne even though the programme has ended. I really value her viewpoint and knowledge and really enjoy her company.
Chris Bradley, Mentee: Get involved! On a personal development level it really helped me. Just talking things through helped me sort out my own thought process.
I am sure for many businesses like ours – owned by two owners – having a third viewpoint really helps to round-off/stimulate the discussions without anything getting personal or awkward. The discipline of getting away from the studio to talk the ‘business’ cannot be underestimated and having tasks and an agenda to run through really focuses the mind.
Lynne Dobney, Mentor: I’d say – get involved, and pay it forward. (Mentees become mentors!)
Lynne Dobney, Mentor: Listening, not judging.
Chris Bradley, Mentee: I didn’t expect to make a friend!
DBA Twenty/Twenty pairs rising industry leaders with established design pioneers for a 12-month one-to-one mentoring relationship. Applications for the 2019 programme are open until 23 November 2018 so why not think about what you need right now, or what you can give. Find out more and apply.
Alejandro Escamilla | Unsplash
It might sound simple, but it’s surprising the number of design companies who haven’t quite nailed their positioning or the way they talk about themselves. Creatives, quite rightly, are often so focused on delivering excellent work for their clients that they don’t have time for this. But now, more than ever, it’s crucial to have a clear and direct positioning that uses simple and transparent language over industry jargon and buzzwords like ‘purpose’, ‘experience’ and ‘authenticity’. Your audience knows that you and your competitors can deliver excellent design work, so your positioning needs to tell them what makes your business truly individual and unique. Being hyper aware of what your competitors are saying, and not saying, from a communications perspective is crucial here.
Your team is your strongest asset and they are uniquely placed to help spread the word about the values you strive for. Each team member is a brand ambassador, so spend time educating them how to talk about what you do, so they can become natural spokespeople for your company. This is crucial when it comes to marketing and PR opportunities. Creatives are time-poor, so the more of your team who can confidently attend or present at events, talk to press, write a blog post, or speak on your company’s behalf, the better placed you are to maximise any press opportunities that come your way.
It may be an old cliché, but it’s a good one. We can’t all be a Patagonia, Nike or Innocent Smoothies, but there are so many things you can do to help communicate your company’s ethos through the way you behave. At one end of the spectrum, it’s about ensuring the content you share online not only reflects your values but is also outward-looking and connects to other movements, companies and opinions, rather than being purely based on self-promotion. This can be extended to participating in events, creating mini event series yourselves, hosting a panel discussion, or creating a podcast. All of this can sound scary (and expensive) at first, but it needn’t be either if you partner with the right people and have a clear focus of what you want to achieve.
One of the huge positives about social media is that the world is now much smaller in terms of who you connect with. Use this opportunity to forge relationships with other companies, clients and suppliers who share or reflect your values. Whether this manifests as co-hosting an event, writing a joint opinion piece, collaborating on a visionary concept project, or offering clients a new way of collaborating with you and a relevant partner, the results can be refreshing and memorable. Crucial here is having frank conversations early on about the PR potential of any partnership, as should be the case with all clients, so that both parties can reap the benefits later down the line.
At a time when design education is under increasing threat, young designers need industry support more than ever in order to reach their potential. Many companies are already good at being involved in education initiatives, but more can always be done. This can include everything from being proactive about taking on interns and work experience students, to engaging with local schools and colleges to deliver student talks, setting student briefs at all levels of education, and fully exploring the creative industries network and getting involved in the initiatives that feel right for you.
After all, if there’s one value that all design companies should be embedding into their ethos it’s nurturing the future of our brilliant industry. Getting involved in design education, at whatever level you can, can go a long way to achieving this goal.
Chris Barbalis | Unsplash
Oleg Laptev | Unsplash
Elena Taranenko | Unsplash
To start with, it’s vital to make the distinction between different types of freelancers when looking at KPIs.
There are ‘Freelancers’ in the traditional sense, hired to fill a capacity need on a project-by-project basis and also ‘Permalancers’ who are hired on a long-term basis.
Permalancers should be treated in the same way as employees when evaluating staff costs.
But agencies need to start looking at true Freelancers as a ‘cost of sale’, identifying their costs as a separate line in operating reports. Effectively an agency is sharing the income generated from a project with external collaborators that we call Freelancers.
Therefore the agency’s true income is the amount left after deducting the cost of Freelancers, which we should call Gross Profit. KPIs relating to staff costs, overheads and operating profit should be measured using Gross Profit as the denominator rather than Gross Income. As an example:
|Direct Job Costs||(200,000)|
|Freelancers||(80,000) (10%) of gross income|
|Salaries||(400,000) (56%) of gross profit|
|Overheads||(150,000) (20%) of gross profit|
|Operating Profit||170,000 (24%) of gross profit|
Gross Income still has an important role to play but it’s more limited, used primarily as the denominator in expressing the % of Freelancers and Gross Profit.
The DBA Annual Survey Report is the design industry’s most comprehensive financial benchmarking tool, and a DBA member benefit. The Report analyses data of DBA member agencies including on salaries, agency growth in London and nationally, charge out and utilisation rates. Contact us to find out more and discuss DBA membership.
P: 020 7251 9229
Rawpixel | Unsplash
As the DBA’s Head of Services Adam Fennelow says in his article Where do the women go? “A diverse workforce is good for business – so find ways to encourage women to return.”
Businesses that show more support for working mothers before, during and after maternity leave will not only attract and retain the best talent, but will get the very best out of them too.
There are some basic building blocks that all businesses should have in place in this area, including fair maternity leave and pay, an easing-in process for those returning to work, childcare support and flexible working.
The eye-watering cost of childcare can be enough to make women question whether their return to work is worthwhile. Offering childcare vouchers is a great way to support staff and it doesn’t have to be an expensive option, as employers save money through national insurance contributions
Flexible working is another key area to consider. A survey by NCT showed as many as 79% of women requested flexible working on their return to work, but despite demand being at an all-time high, only 11% of jobs paying over £20,000 are advertised as being flexible.
There’s a misconception that presence and productivity go hand in hand, but numerous studies have shown that people work just as effectively on condensed hours. Women need to feel comfortable that flexible working hours won’t impact their position or potential for promotion.
For their part, managers must be mindful that when a women returns on flexi-time, she is still inspired and incentivised in her role. It’s all about appreciating the value of each individual employee, regardless of their personal commitments.
The prospect of juggling work with a new baby can be as scary as it is exhilarating, so businesses not only need to consider the practicalities of this change, but also the emotional aspects of maternity leave. Women may feel guilt, sadness and anxiety at leaving their child for the first time. They may also feel like a bit of an outsider on their return, especially if new faces have arrived.
Communication here is key; keeping women firmly in the loop before and during maternity leave is vital. Businesses can achieve this with initiatives like maternity coaching. This is not only a great way of preparing women for the changes that will occur before they go on maternity leave and easing them back in on their return, but can also help managers be more understanding of the demands the new parent is facing.
‘Keeping in touch days’ are also a brilliant way of phasing women back into work and can be arranged before the woman has gone on leave, so that she’s given some form of structure. Arranging these discussions, along with regular updates on the business, can help reduce the anxiety that women may feel about returning to work.
Following maternity leave, it’s also important to have a formal return programme in place which reintroduces women back into their role, rather than expecting them to hit the ground running after a long period away. A buddy system where women are partnered with someone who has been through the same thing can be especially helpful for first-time mothers.
No two women are the same and while some policies and flexible arrangements might work for some, they may not work for others. For example, there may be mothers who want the option to take on more work after returning from maternity leave and continue to climb the ladder, so it’s equally important this opportunity is made possible.
It comes down to talking, listening and showing appreciation and understanding of women’s feelings and career goals. Doing so will make employees feel more valued and ultimately, more motivated, engaged and productive.
In short, we need to build a working world where motherhood is embraced, not penalised. And this attitude shouldn’t just apply to working mothers; we should be focused on creating environments that actively promote inclusion and diversity right across the board.