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Creative leadership - a story of determination and belief

The moment when my colleague called me "a real Creative Director" came both as a surprise and a realisation to me. I’ve worked so hard for so long to get to this point that I haven’t taken a moment to appreciate the journey behind me and the destination I’ve reached. Not only have I entered a club that seemed exclusive to me for many years. I’ve entered it as a woman – in significant minority.

This acknowledgment underscores a broader issue within the creative industry, where women's ascent to leadership positions, is marked by a combination of determination, talent, and the relentless pursuit of equality. Yet, despite the strides made, disproportion persists. Women remain underrepresented, especially in senior creative roles.

There’s no denying that the situation within the creative industry is slowly improving. However, it is still far from perfect. A study by Creative Equals suggests that women make up just 29% of the creative director positions in the UK, despite accounting for over half of the entry-level workforce in the creative industry.

The challenges women face is multifaceted, stemming from systemic biases to work-life balance hurdles. Gender stereotypes, unequal pay, and the scarcity of female mentors are significant barriers, alongside a culture that often prioritises male leadership styles.

Despite these challenges, numerous women have become influential figures, shaping the industry with their vision and leadership. Figures such as Paula Scher, a principal at Pentagram, known for her graphic design and typographic work, Resh Sidhu, Creative Director at AKQA, who has been instrumental in VR and AR storytelling, and Debbie Millman, a designer and educator, are testaments to what women can achieve in senior creative roles.

Organisations are also stepping up to support women in creative fields. SheSays, a global network focused on the engagement and advancement of women in the creative industries, offers mentorship, networking, and professional development opportunities. Likewise, Ladies, Wine & Design and Women Who Create provide platforms for women to connect, collaborate, and inspire one another.

The road ahead for women in the creative industry is paved with both opportunities and obstacles. The slight improvement in representation and the benefits of work flexibility are positive signs, but the potential rollback of such gains remains a concern with many companies scaling back on their commitment to remote work and systems that helped many working parents in recent years.

As someone who has navigated this landscape, my advice to young women aspiring to senior creative roles is to stand firm in your beliefs, seek out good mentors, and build a supportive network. It's crucial to find balance, pursue continuous learning, and embrace the challenges as opportunities for growth.

The narrative of women in the creative industry is one of resilience, creativity, and gradual progress toward equality. By highlighting the achievements of influential women and the work of organisations dedicated to gender parity, we can inspire the next generation of female leaders. As we continue to break barriers and challenge stereotypes, the industry will not only become more inclusive but also richer in diversity and innovation.

In reflecting on my own journey and those of others, it's clear that while the path may be riddled with challenges, it's also lined with moments of triumph and realisation. Let us cherish these milestones as we move ahead, shaping a more equitable and vibrant future for all creative professionals.

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Dom 150X150

About the author

Dominika is an accomplished creative professional with over 17 years of experience, spanning diverse sectors from big tech to public organisations. Her career is highlighted by a strong passion for creative leadership, underpinned by a strategic and data-driven approach to problem-solving.

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