Design industry still 90% white and 60% male, Government figures reveal

The latest statistics from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport reveal that employment in the sector is booming but only 10% of employees are from ethnic minority backgrounds.

The UK design industry employs over 50% more people than it did six years ago but is still 90% white and nearly 60% male, according to the latest Government figures.

Research revealed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) shows that the creative industries have experienced a “jobs boom”, with employment growing at four times the rate of the UK workforce as a whole.

Currently, two million people work in the creative sectors. This includes design and fashion; advertising and marketing; architecture; crafts; film, TV, video, radio and photography; music, performing and visual arts; museums, galleries and libraries; publishing; and IT, software and computer services.

Design industry up by 60,000 employees since 2011

The data was taken from the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) Annual Population Survey.

The UK’s design sector in particular has jumped by 60,000 workers, employing 160,000 people in 2016 compared to 100,000 in 2011.

The statistics also show a rise in ethnic diversity in the design industry, which employed 5,000 more people from BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) backgrounds in 2016 compared to 2011, an increase of almost 50%.

“Still more to do” on diversity in creative industries

However, over 90% of the design workforce is still white, the figures show, and 58% of UK designers are male. The majority are aged between 25 and 39, and have a university degree or equivalent.

On the employment figures, Matt Hancock, creative industries minister at DCMS, says: “These positive job figures show Britain’s creative industries are performing better than ever. Those working in the creative industries are cultural ambassadors for Britain, and play a hugely important role in helping form and shape the way we are viewed both at home and abroad.

“While there is still more to do before diversity in the creative industries mirrors that of our society as a whole, I’m encouraged to see that this area is improving at more than twice the rate of the wider workplace,” he adds.

Hancock recently spoke at the Creative Industries Federation’s international conference on the need to increase diversity within the creative industries, saying that those working within the sector need to “ensure they reach to all parts” of the UK when seeking new employees and give “everybody the chance to make the most of their lives”.

Diversity statistics “worrying”

On diversity in the creative workforce, a spokesperson at the Creative Industries Federation says: “The headline statistics on diversity within the creative sector are worrying. [We] recognise that policy needs to change in order to allow everyone to fulfil their creative potential.”

The Federation recently published the Creative Diversity report demonstrating that increasing diversity in the creative sector would also be economically beneficial.“According to analysis presented, the most racially and ethnically diverse companies are more likely to have better than average returns,” says the spokesperson.

They add: “One of the main areas of our policy work focuses on diversifying the workforce.”

Hide Comments (6)Show Comments (6)
  • Amir Ahmed August 1, 2017 at 10:07 am

    What! No Way! Would never have thought it. Or seen it. Or felt it.

  • DC August 1, 2017 at 10:24 am

    I think that the starting postion of this article is misleading at best. Undoubtably there is room for improvement on diversity, but the ‘90% of the design workforce is still white’ statement projects an image of injustice and vast inequality. Based upon the 2011 census data (which is slightly out of date) the UK population is 81.9% white. The 8.1% shortfall is not good and could be improved upon, but is not as wildly out and worrying as the Federation seems to imply.

  • IJ August 1, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    In 2011 the UK population census states 87.1% are white. And nearly 55% of men make up the working ‘in employ’ population. So these figures fairly accurately reflect society as a whole. The design industry is probably the most diverse and welcoming industry in the UK. If you have a ‘good book’ the industry wants you dearly regardless of your background, gender or sexual orientation!

  • Nick Prescott August 2, 2017 at 10:47 am

    Like DC and IJ say, the article is perhaps alarmist since the stats are a parallel to the UK population. Black or white, CYMY or RGB, it doesn’t matter and I cringe every time I see that the government invests taxpayers money into nonsense like this. It’s like pouring money into a survey to investigate the disproportionate number of white sprinters in athletics. If you are good at something, born to it, learn it, love it, then do it. That doesn’t need a survey.

  • Honey August 5, 2018 at 7:38 pm

    I expected denial.

    People that aren’t white only live in the bigger cities and notably the majority of London’s population is not white. The industry is not reflective of the wealth culture that exists in British urban life. The truth is that the design industry is perpetually one of the most racist white supremacist, sexist, ageist industries there is, white liberal bearded men only want to employ people that are like themselves. I knew that the reaction to these findings would be #whitefragility #malefragility and this magazine designweek doesn’t do enough to help change anything either… you have just been continually as bad as the design industry itself. I expect no changes

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