Campaign reported on an organization—Creative Mentor Network—that connects diverse youth mentees with creative industry mentors. But in one critical way, the organization appears to be extremely different than most of the patronizing mentor programs that White advertising agencies use to feign commitment to change. Specifically, Creative Mentor Network requires that mentors undergo extensive training to qualify. It’s hard to determine exactly what is involved in the training, but the very idea sounds progressive. To recognize that mentors—especially those coming from exclusive environments like ad agencies—need education and coaching to successfully engage with minority youth is remarkable. Kudos to the CMN Team for such forward-thinking awareness.
How the Creative Mentor Network is helping advertising’s diversity problem
By James Page
The organisation visits Havas and other agencies to train creatives to become mentors for college students from diverse backgrounds.
The not-for-profit organisation, founded by former teacher Isabel Farchy, aims to connect creative talent with young-people from diverse backgrounds. Through this, Creative Mentor Network hopes to make the advertising industry more accessible as a career for rising talent.
Farchy said: “In the creative industry there is a habit of recruiting through networks, so it can just be a lot more opaque from the outside and a lot harder to infiltrate. I really wanted my students when I was a teacher, but also now the students we work with, to understand that there were real opportunities in the creative industries”.
The London-based network has worked with numerous agencies such as Havas to train employees to become mentors.
Elliot Harris, creative director at Havas who is mentoring a teen, said: “I would love to think that by the end of this course… that there is a much broader set of experience he has had that will allow him to make some choices before he moves into the next stage of his education”.
The mentors at Havas have introduced their mentees to different departments at the agency, allowing them to get a wider understanding of the advertising world.
Creative Mentor Network believes that the course is just as beneficial for agencies as it is for the college students. Farchy said: “Agencies obviously gain the opportunity to do something practical about the diversity issue and also to offer training and development for their employees”.
She added: “When our partner agencies are looking to recruit, particularly for junior roles and for internship roles and for apprenticeship roles, we’re able to put them out to our alumni and its a really amazing opportunity to recruit much more diverse talent”.
The organisation has an alumni of over 200 students.