Start where you are and do better – our commitment to diversity and belonging

Here at Hands Down!, like at many organisations, we can do more to foster diverse voices and thinking. The recent Black Lives Matter movement uplift has served to strengthen our belief that we cannot be complacent. Creating a truly diverse and non-racist society is a work in progress for us all.

The creative industry as a whole can work harder to bring about change. The IPA’s recently released Agency Census has shown that improvements in diversity in the industry have been marginal at best in the last year. We acknowledge that as an agency we have the influence and ability to play a part in creating this change.

There are a number of things that we already do really well to bring about diversity and belonging such as our remote-first design and our flexible working policy. We are agile and able to create change quickly to keep building on our diverse creative community. This is not a pat on the back; it’s a good starting place from which we can (and want to) do much better.

We are approaching our commitment to diversity and anti-racism with our agile mindset – testing and learning as we go. To get started we will be committing to these five focus areas, with clear measurable actions for the next quarter. >>

1 – Recruitment
We will continue our creative recruitment process which doesn’t place emphasis on education or background but on skills and portfolios. We will take actions to combat our unconscious bias when recruiting into our network and actively recruit creative talent from marginalised backgrounds. We will also review our preferred suppliers lists to ensure that we are not supporting racist organisations. When resourcing creatives to project teams we will scrutinise the diversity of those teams.

Our measurable actions to be reviewed at our quarterly leadership meetings:

  • 33%* representation from marginalised talent in our Creative Community by June 2022.
  • Include this diversity and belonging policy with all job specs for future hires.
  • Pay equity to ensure that all our talent, especially marginalised talent, is being paid industry rates for their work.

2 – Communication & Events
We will ensure all our communication and the events that we run, or are involved in, offer diversity. We already actively challenge gender and race equality in industry representation but will do more in amplifying black creatives.

Our measurable actions to be reviewed at quarterly leadership meetings:

  • Continue our existing diversity practice of not speaking on all white panels and putting forward a person of colour from our network instead.
  • Committing the Hands Down! team to 10 hours of free mentoring per quarter for Black and underrepresented creatives.

3 – Client work
We will start all client relationships with an open discussion of their business Diversity & Inclusion practices. We will carry out an audit and update of all briefing and workshop templates to ensure language and phrasing doesn’t carry any bias and that all projects are actively scrutinised to ensure they are anti-racist.

Our measurable actions to be reviewed at quarterly leadership meetings:

  • Review and update our creative processes and templates by September 2021.
  • Commit to sharing our actions with other independent agency owners.
  • Evaluate our past six projects to identify where we could have done better on diversity and inclusion (outputs and processes), in partnership with our clients.

4 – Individual Development
Our leadership team will be reading, watching and discussing a wide range of resources to enhance our understanding of a world beyond the current default ‘white’ lens. We will identify the actions we can do daily to become even better allies to play an active role in combating systemic racism. Our core team will step up, speak out and take action, using the company and personal channels to share information, resources and research. We will create safe spaces for discussion with our creative teams and clients.

Our measurable actions to be reviewed at quarterly leadership meetings:

5 – Seek advice and support organisations
“Racism shows up on three levels: personal/interpersonal, institutional and culture. Working for racial justice means we need to work on each of the three levels” (Dismantling Racism).

We will intentionally partner with organisations and communities that work on culture more broadly. We will take external consultancy to ensure our actions will lead to change. We currently financially support the Brixton Finishing School through our Inside Out Awards, mentor diverse businesses and will continue to identify opportunities where we can support the creative industry to become inclusive and anti-racist.

Our measurable actions to be reviewed at quarterly leadership meetings:

This is a journey and a constant work in progress, but we are committed to doing our very best for our dear friends and associates who deserve much better.

Five resources that we would like to share:

* Why 33%? We have been inspired by the agency John Doe who have implemented this same percentage. Their reasoning “if we set targets that are easy to meet it wouldn’t require organisational and behavioural change”. 

Handy Insights

Inclusion and diversity: the Hands Down! approach

Nowadays we can't deny not coming across the phrase 'diversity and inclusion' every so often. Since this topic has been dominating the conversation over the last few years, we sat down and reflected on what diversity and inclusion really means for us as a brand design agency, and why these terms are at the core of our business.

Lessons learned from a pandemic – an interview with the Women In Marketing Awards

Since March 2004, Women In Marketing has brought together the best pioneers of the industry. In light of the latest 2021 WIM Awards event, our founder Emma Sexton is tackling some key questions, from the rationale behind our business model to lessons she's learned along the way.

Why our better business model gets you better results: The Hands Down! Story

Since COVID, we’ve been asked about our remote-first model a lot. So, here’s a summary of questions and answers to help you understand our story to see how we can help you get to better.