Diageo sponsors international roll out of Creative Equals Returner scheme

Our sponsorship of the Creative Equals Returner scheme #CreativeComeback, for the second year, will fund a multi-market roll-out to address the lack of women represented in top creative leadership roles around the world.


The programme will run in London, New York and Mumbai in 2020 with the objective of supporting 100 women back into the creative industries following a career break of a year or more. The expansion follows the success of the first programme which saw 58 women complete the course in London and Manchester 2019, with the majority returning to the creative industries following completion.

The Creative Equals Returner scheme will support 100 women to return to the creative industries

The Creative Equals Returner scheme will support 100 women to return to the creative industries

#CreativeComeback takes place as the advertising industry struggles to close the gap in creative leadership roles and more progress is needed on gender portrayal in advertising. In the UK advertising industry, according to Creative Equals, women make up only 16% of creative directors [1].

In the US, the ANA found in 2018 that although women comprise over half of the marketing industry’s workforce, they still lag behind in leadership roles [2]. In India, research by Kantar and Diageo into the top 150 Indian adverts across sectors found that 29% showed outdated gender stereotypes or needed improvement in terms of gender portrayal. 

During the two-week training bootcamp with non-profit advertising and design association D&AD, the returners will be brought up to speed on latest industry developments before responding to briefs from Diageo brands including Gordon’s, Baileys, Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Black & White. The group will be made up of advertising art directors, advertising copywriters, designers, UX designers as well as social, editorial and digital creatives.

Following the bootcamp, returners will do a four-week placement with a leading agency whilst being supported by a coach. Organisations involved include Anomaly, D&AD, DDB Mudra, Geometry, Glitch, M&C Saatchi, MRM//McCann, Publicis, Uncommon, VMLY&R, Wunderman Thompson amongst others.

“I’m pleased to see more women entering the boardrooms of agencies, but too few are in creative leadership positions. I am convinced that diversity in creative leadership leads to better and more effective work. It’s time for concerted action that will close the creative leadership gap. “We were blown away by the responses to our briefs from the returners in 2019 and I’m thrilled to see women who took part go on to re-establish flourishing careers. We’re proud to be bringing #CreativeComeback to the UK, US and India – countries that are crucial to both our business, and the creative industries as a whole.”

Syl Saller
Syl Saller

Chief Marketing Officer, Diageo

“In 2019, with the Government Equalities Office, D&AD and Diageo, we have been able to put bridges back to work for 41 women in London and Manchester, with 15 permanent hires. We know this is life-changing for some, giving them their careers back and making a dent on changing the ratio of female creative directors across all markets. “Our aim is to shift the perception of CV gaps: these moments where life happens are creativity’s gifts, and yet ‘time out’ as a barrier to coming back to work. We also know ageism is a challenge, and while 70% of the UK’s income is held by those over 50, just 6% of our workforce sits in this age bracket. We know who makes the work shapes the work, so to produce better, more innovative ideas we need diverse perspectives with those from all walks of life at the table to represent the audiences we serve.”

Ali Hanan
Ali Hanan

Founder of Creative Equals

“I am delighted that we will be working with Creative Equals in launching this programme in India. It is well acknowledged that diverse teams are more creative and innovative, but still we continue to see mid-career dropout within the creative industry. It can be hard to return to work after a long break, hence we are excited to bring the ‘creative comeback’ program to India. We want cutting edge and diverse creative brains to work on our brands and we are excited to make this happen with Creative Equals, DDB Mudra and Glitch.”

Julie Bramham
Julie Bramham

Chief Marketing Officer for Diageo India

“Diageo is fortunate to have some of the most iconic brands in the world, and fresh creative perspectives are critical to the relevance of those brands. Diversity in creative leadership is essential, and this program has the potential to truly impact the gap. Following the success of the program in the UK last year, we are looking forward to rolling it out to US returners”

Ed Pilkington
Ed Pilkington

Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer for Diageo North America

The programme will take place in London, running across International Women’s Day from the 2-12 March, followed by New York 23 March-2 April and Mumbai in September and October.

To find out more about #CreativeComeback or to apply, visit: http://www.creativeequals.org/creativecomeback

[1] http://www.creativeequals.org/#vision

[2] A Diversity Report for the Advertising/Marketing Industry, ANA, November 2018

Inclusion & Diversity at Diageo

Support for the #CreativeComeback programme is part of Diageo’s broader work to improve progressive gender portrayal in content and to accelerate gender balance in the advertising industry itself.

Diageo has rolled out a comprehensive progressive gender advertising framework and training programme to its marketers and agencies around the world, and is the joint author of an industry wide playbook to remove gender stereotypes from advertising.

Diageo is an active member of the Unstereotype Alliance and a signatory of Free the Bid, which aims to increase the number of female directors in the advertising industry.

Diageo is recognised in the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index and ranked as the top company for gender equality in the world in the Equileap’s 2019 ranking.