I have been working in the design industry for 20 years and I can count on one hand the amount of black and minority designers I have come across, and being freelance you get to work with a lot of agencies. The majority of people are white males from middle class backgrounds, and the irony is that most of these guys I come across are very liberal and politically aware, yet the recruitment culture they control does not reflect this.
The fact that the industry does not reflect the population is a big problem on many counts. It means that minorities are not given the opportunity to flourish and contribute in what is an amazing industry, it further narrows the rungs on upward mobility for the working class of which many black and minority groups are, and it means that the images put out by these agencies are coming from one perspective and bias.
On the latter point I know from personal experience that diversity can change mindsets. I designed a press ad for a major record label for a new release and the copy supplied was in my eyes, as a person of colour, a negative stereotype. I was not happy so I picked up the phone and kicked off! I was able to have some influence and the copy was changed, it wasn’t perfect but it was something, and the same time I educated someone. I’ve been able to influence in less extreme ways countless times. I guess another extreme would be the image H&M used of a black boy wearing a hoodie saying 'Coolest monkey in the jungle'. In the eyes of many white people they could not see the problem, but as someone who as been at the receiving end of the word monkey, as a racial slur I think differently. If I was the designer of the hoodie, or at the photoshoot I would have flagged this up.
In Britain where the working class and black culture dominates trends, and have done for decades, why is that this raw creative energy from these communities are not breaking through?
The link below includes some answers to this question from people in the industry, written by Laura Snoad on Creative Bloq: