Diageo continues sponsorship of global Creative Equals programme as scheme expands

11 Oct 2022
The Guinness team at the Creative Comeback event

As part of our commitment to creating an advertising and media environment where, from script to screen, everyone sees themselves represented, we are proud to have supported the Creative Equals Returner scheme for the fourth year running across the UK.

The CreativeComeback programme supports women back into the creative industries following a career break of a year or more for a range of circumstances, including maternity leave, caring for ageing parents or mental health leave. Last month, we celebrated with all four years of returners at our new Soho office and heard the incredible stories of how the CreativeComeback programme has helped the individuals.

Creative Comeback 'returners' on a panel

‘Returners’ shared how the programme has helped them at the Alumni event

Since 2019, more than 160 women have been supported by Creative Equals’ CreativeComeback programme across the world, with 85% of participants going on to find employment.

Taking place for the first time in person since the pandemic, 21 'returners' completed the two-week UK programme this summer. During the bootcamp, the returners met creative mentors from partner agencies, heard from speakers about how to navigate today’s job market, before receiving a creative briefing from Diageo brands Baileys and Guinness to work on in teams and pitch back to Diageo’s marketing teams.

As part of the refreshed programme, this was the first time ‘live’ briefs were used for the returners, meaning all work presented to Diageo could be used in the returners portfolio’s when applying for prospective jobs.

The UK expansion follows on from our sponsorship of the Mumbai launch which took place earlier this year, in addition to the New York City programme which will be retuning early next year. The Mumbai launch saw 12 women take part, with briefs from Diageo-owned brands Baileys and Smirnoff, and came at a pivotal time for the country, with women being 11 times more likely to not work after COVID job loss[1].

Grainne Wafer, Global Director for Beer, Baileys and Smirnoff at Diageo, commented: “Both the Baileys and Guinness brand teams were completely blown away by the responses to the briefs this year. The returners bring an incredible sense of creativity to challenging briefs, and it is truly an honour to hear from them. I’m proud of Diageo’s commitment to championing these women and helping them get back into the creative industry.”

Speaking on her recent experience of the UK programme, one of this year’s cohort said: "I went into CreativeComeback thinking that I didn't fit in anywhere and wasn't up to date with everything that is going on in the industry - I felt pretty scared that I was completely out of the game. I came out of the two-week programme with a renewed sense of confidence, courage and belief in my skills, experience and abilities - both professionally and personally. Thank you to the entire team who created and are a part of this amazing initiative."

Ali Hanan, CEO and founder of Creative Equals, said: “I’m so pleased that we’ve been able to expand our programme further with Diageo and can continue to support women back into the creative industries. We have seen many groups hired in the post-pandemic job boom, however, returners are simply not coveted in the same way because of their CV gaps, as a result we have seen a whole host of older people leaving the workforce. In fact, roughly 800K older people have dropped out of work. No one knows where they have 'gone' but it's a huge loss. In the global sector, just 29% of creative directors are women[2], with many women and parents forced to step out of the job market during COVID, faced with home schooling and parenting full-time. If brands want diversity at the creative table and consider this an imperative to great creative, then we need to consciously address paths back to work for new mothers and birthing parents.”

In the UK this year, the following agencies supported the programme with mentoring and access to employment opportunities: VMLY&R, Prime Video, Shoot the moon, Engine, Wunderman Thompson, Fishawack Health, Pablo and We are social.


[1]Times of India 2021
[2] Linkedin 2022