I moved to Kansas City a few years ago with the intentions of pivoting my career into a more creative and inclusive industry. As a long time creative working in sales, hospitality and finance, I was ready to take on a role with more creative liberties and variety of projects. Don’t get me wrong, I learned a lot from every job I’ve ever had but I felt it was time to take the leap into something more… inspired. That search led me to an incredibly talented Kansas City Creative Director that helped me land my first serious job in a creative field…photography! I worked with exceptionally talented and professional long time creatives right here in Kansas City and was able to start navigating the world of photography, video and how agencies work. As I worked and learned, I started realizing that the work itself was fine and the people I worked with were some of the best in their industry but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was still not quite right. Not until a few weeks ago did I fully connect what it was that had been missing in my previous creative position.
Although I worked with some of the greatest people I’ve ever met, the majority of their them were and considered themselves white. I don’t say this to talk down my experiences with some great people or to bash anybodies background, but instead to paint a picture for you. I mention it because it was my reality and what I saw and dealt with on a daily basis. I hadn’t even realized that I didn’t work with anybody of color AT ALL until recently. Being a minority amongst the majority isn’t new to me, especially living in the midwest, so it makes sense that I wouldn’t notice it right away.
My realization took place during a reflection of who I work with now and it really made me think of my current situation. As a producer at Segura Marketing and Media Solutions, I get the privilege of meeting and working with an incredibly diverse group of creatives, models, businesses and brands. I can honestly say that the presence of diversity and inclusion has allowed me to grow from the variety of experiences and cultures I’ve been exposed to. This made me wonder what other growth opportunities I had been previously missing out on and more importantly, why this was now an obvious issue in any industry I choose to be in that I had never noticed?!
What up with diversity and inclusion in the creative industry ??
I ask this question with dozens of conversations with other creatives of color in mind who also notice that they are the diversity instead of being surrounded by it. Noticing the lack of diversity was just the first step to figuring out why our creative community is behind in inclusiveness. This step seems obvious but I can tell you first hand, it’s not immediately obvious when you’re in the thick of it. I’m not saying that being surrounded by white people is all bad but it brings to light that there’s an issue with the lack of diversity in the creative industry. How can we expect growth and continued creativity if we’re only surrounded by white people?
I urge you to take a look into your current environment and take a mental note of who you work with and their backgrounds in order to take inventory of what diversity means to your organization, profession and industry. I am proud to be surrounded by a diverse and interesting group of people but I hope that this can become an industry standard instead of an industry phenomenon. I remain hopeful that diversity will become the norm but in the meantime, let’s keep talking about it!