Government unveils toolkit to tackle “class crisis” in the creative industry

The resource has been developed by the Social Mobility Commission in partnership with businesses across the creative industry, and claims to offer “practical support”.

The UK government has launched a new toolkit which it hopes will improve socio-economic diversity and inclusion within the creative industry.

The toolkit has been developed by the Social Mobility Commission, in partnership with businesses across the creative sector, and aims to tackle what it labels a “class crisis” in the sector. It comes weeks after the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Creative Diversity set out its own set of recommendations to ameliorate diversity within the creative industry.

According to research by the commission, just 27% of the creative industries workforce comes from a working-class background. More than half of the workforce are from high socio-economic backgrounds.

Developing a “strategic approach”

The first section of the toolkit introduces creatives to the subject of social mobility and issues related to it. Explanations and definitions include those on the creative sector class pay gap, progression problems and intersectionality.

What follows is a breakdown of how employers might establish their own “strategic approach” geared towards class parity, according to the Social Mobility Commission.

Split into four elements, the toolkit says a successful strategy combines the analysis of company data, the exploration of the employee journey, an attention to culture and advocacy and collaboration.

Tips here include example questions employers can ask of themselves and others to measure where their company currently sits on the issue.

“Practical” solutions

The final section is dedicated to “practical” solutions. It is split into several sections, from hiring, to progression, advocacy and leadership, and then advice is expanded upon for both “developing” solutions to the problem, and “optimising” an approach.

In the leadership section, for example, the toolkit asks employers to consider who in their organisation will help “shape and drive” a socially inclusive culture. For a company only looking to develop their approach, suggestions include having visible roles from low socio-economic backgrounds – this might include sharing stories and experiences to “ensure visibility”, the resource says.

For those looking to go one step further and “optimise” their strategy, suggestions include making one or more senior colleagues accountable to leadership for the agenda, or building up an internal community of “mentors and buddies” to drive socio-economic diversity internally.

Toolkit reception

News of the toolkit has largely been welcomed by leaders in the creative industry. Caroline Norbury, CEO of the Creative Industries Federation (CIF) says it is a “critical resource” for addressing the “unacceptable imbalance” of socio-economic backgrounds found in the industry at present.

Meanwhile, newly-appointed culture secretary Nadine Dorries says: “We want to increase access to opportunities across the board as part of our plan to level up. This new toolkit will help support creative firms become more inclusive and give people the chance to forge a successful career in these exciting sectors.”

What do you think of the toolkit? Let us know in the comments below…

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  • Richard October 1, 2021 at 8:16 am

    In my own experience and after many years of teaching, students from backgrounds where they are supported by parents (not just financially) and have more confidence are more socially sophisticated performed far better in their first 2 years in the job market than students who worked 2, or sometimes 3 jobs to support their studies, and who have not come from a background where the creative industries are part of the economic/professional spectrum. If the government wants to ‘level up’ then it needs to look at factors that impact long before students enter higher education. A potential employer once told me he was more interested in candidates who ‘shine’ than in the quality of their work.

  • Nicki Field October 1, 2021 at 8:54 am

    This is obviously much needed a resource and awareness within the industry is critical but from a government who simultaneously undercuts educational pathways into the creative industry? Cutting off school access to creative subjects is at the route of a career in the Arts not being deemed ‘viable’. If kids from marginalised and traditionally underrepresented backgrounds aren’t able to freely study the arts because the government are curbing it in the curriculum and pre-options level, then a toolkit is a solution that’s already too late.

  • Alistair October 4, 2021 at 10:19 am

    Brilliant idea of using a historic elitist form of social diversion, to attempt a model of inclusion, using a set of immeasurable (often disputed) criteria as the means of fund allocation.
    Sounds exactly like the intention is to maintain the status quo.

  • Bob October 11, 2021 at 9:41 am

    “In 2021, students graduating from English universities will have incurred an average of over 45 thousand British pounds of student loan debt”

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