The force you need to push for inclusion

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Laura Jordan Bambach, President & CCO UK, Grey For over 20 years, Laura has enhanced the advertising industry through her fresh, pioneering spirit. Combining technical skill, with her innate human understanding and passion for storytelling, Laura is recognised globally as an innovator and industry leader. Laura is a former president of D&AD who has been twice named one of Britain’s most influential people within the Debrett’s 500 annual list and recognised as Individual of the Year at the DADI Awards. She was also honoured in Campaign UK Female Frontier Awards for Championing Change. A true champion for diversity, Laura is a co-founder of The Great British Diversity Experiment and is also a co-founder of SheSays: this world-famous volunteer network works to encourage more women into the creative industries. Laura lectures around the world and has written creative curriculum for the RCA, UNSW Art and Design and Westminster University.

Biggest fuck up?

Many years ago, when I was still hands-on designing/coding/animating, I was heading up an animation project for a massive global FMCG brand.

I was pregnant and suffering from morning sickness, but there had never been any mothers in the agency before, so was still early days and keeping it schtum (turned out there were two of us who gave birth the same week, but I didn’t know that yet).

So I wasn’t bringing my A game, and because I was in a leadership role took the brunt of the burden myself.

It dragged, went horribly wrong, didn’t get the result I was looking for, and it also ran me into the ground. Just awful. I was working until the wee hours, throwing up in the office toilets when no one else was in there.

I learned then my most important lesson – ALWAYS put your hand up if you need help, and never be too proud to ask because it’s a recipe for disaster. Asking for help is a strength, not a weakness.

Rant

I generally love the industry, but the force with which you need to sometimes push for inclusion for people still irks me. It’s why we set up SheSays 15 years ago. And I still sometimes hear from people, “but we’re only hiring the best person for the job,” or “I couldn’t find any diverse talent”, as a reason to have a monoculture in the agency; it’s painful.

What I really hear is, “I can’t be bothered taking the time to change things”.

Because amazing people are out there – you just have to look in different places, put pressure on recruiters to deliver diverse candidates, and take a punt on someone who hasn’t had the opportunities to shine that others have gotten to radically change things. Diverse creative teams make better work – we proved it with The Great British Diversity Experiment, but there is more effort involved to get there and to support people.

Don’t take the easy route. Take the route to better creative work.

Useful Advice

The most useful advice I’ve ever been given was by an amazing CD, Abi, years ago.

She told me that instead of focusing on what I was doing badly, to focus on what I did brilliantly and put so much energy into it that it shines like the sun. And to delegate the rest. Because those things you’re not good at are someone else’s sun.

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