The Big Table

Diversity in Creative: The Power of Conversation

By Kristen Harris

Our business is to connect clients with the best creative talent, which means we’re working with candidates and companies in the creative space all day long. 

As we go about our work, we often notice a lack of diversity in race or ethnic background amongst candidates for creative roles. Let’s just say it here–we know that this conversation can be tricky territory. But if a company is focused on change, and it’s coming from the right place for the right reasons, we support that. Our job and the commitment we make to our clients is to find top candidates for the role regardless of how they look, their name, background, physical differences, or any other trait that has nothing to do with how well they can do the job. 

At Portfolio Creative we’re in a unique position because we work with both creative talent and employers, but we don’t have all the answers. Seeking input, ideas, and support from people with different experiences than our own, recently we tapped into the power of community and conversation by hosting a Diversity in Creative roundtable as part of the Columbus Foundation’s Big Table event

We invited creatives, marketers, diversity professionals, employers, hiring managers, and community leaders to discuss this topic. While nearly all of the participants were people of color, we knew each person would bring their own unique experience and perspective. All of the attendees were incredibly generous with their time, ideas and insights. 

They shared challenges and barriers they’ve seen personally and have observed in the workplace and discussed where there is an opportunity for change and how we might go about achieving it. While each individual’s experience is unique, there were common themes about how important contacts, access, sponsorship, preparation, and acceptance are to career success whether it’s within a company or starting your own business. 

How did we have a productive conversation about a complex and potentially awkward topic? We set the stage by asking everyone to be open, honest, and a bit patient with each other. Just by hosting the roundtable, we encouraged people to get involved in a conversation about a topic that is rarely discussed, and made sure everyone around the table was engaged. And we listened. We learned from others, heard their ideas, and asked questions to better understand the issue.

So, where do we go from here? We know one conversation won’t create change so we’ll keep reaching out to the community, inviting conversation, asking questions, and listening to learn. And, as it becomes more clear how and where we can be influential to facilitate change, we’ll take action. Because conversation is great, but action leads to change.