The Creative Ladder: New nonprofit supporting underrepresented creatives launched by Ryan Reynolds, Dionna Dorsey Calloway, and David Griner

June 29, 2022
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A group of leading marketers, designers and creators have come together in support of making creative careers more accessible to young people and underrepresented communities.

Announced at Cannes Lions last week, the new nonprofit has been named The Creative Ladder and is being led by Ryan Reynolds (yes, that one), Dionna Dorsey Calloway, and David Griner.

Other notable marketers, like Common Thread Collective COO Orchid Bertelsen, have been named to the board of directors.

“It's a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to make creative careers—namely advertising, marketing, design, commercial production—more representative of their communities and audiences,” said David Griner on Twitter. Griner is co-founder and chief content officer of The Creative Ladder.

The founders created the nonprofit in response to a few glaring problems regarding equal and diverse representation in the creative industry. 

According to The Creative Ladder’s research:

  • 78% of nonwhite creative professionals said they didn’t know their careers existed when they were in high school
  • 69% said they didn’t know their creative careers existed after graduating from college
  • 92% of creative professionals of color said traditional recruiting practices keep the workforce from becoming more inclusive

Other industry data and qualitative data supports The Creative Ladder’s findings. For example, D&AD.org reports only 11.4% of creative jobs are filled by black, Asian, and minority ethnic people. Moreover, only 11.5% of creative directors in the U.S. are women.

Professional freelance writer and content marketer, Momina, echoed a similar sentiment on Twitter. “​​I didn't know careers as copywriter/content marketer existed before. I graduated as a chemical engineer and the future looked BLEAK!! So glad to have found my passion,” said Momina.

The Creative Ladder’s mission is to actively bridge this gap by making creative careers more accessible to underrepresented communities and driving more awareness of existing opportunities in the creative industry.

The program includes two primary focuses. First, it centers on outreach to students to show them what creative opportunities are available and sets them up with resources and mentors. The program also provides leadership training and networking for new creatives, despite their age or current career.

“Once our programming is live, we'll have virtual and in-person opportunities for leadership training geared toward those in the first 10 years of their careers. We'll also begin our outreach to students at the high school and college levels, connecting those interested with mentors and career resources,” said Griner.

This program is also meant to complement and lift other organizations with similar goals. “We're also fully committed to supporting other organizations that share similar goals. We've avoided creating programs that might compete with existing resources, and we'll be amplifying the work of other nonprofits at every opportunity,” said Griner on Twitter.

While the program won’t officially launch until the Fall, there are several ways to get involved in anticipation of its launch.

“The best way for creative-centric companies to support our launch is to make a donation during this critical time. Those donations will enable us to staff up quickly and have the maximum impact right out of the gate. Donations can be made here or by emailing us at [email protected], said Griner.”

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The Creative Ladder: New nonprofit supporting underrepresented creatives launched by Ryan Reynolds, Dionna Dorsey Calloway, and David Griner

A group of leading marketers, designers and creators have come together in support of making creative careers more accessible to young people and underrepresented communities.

Announced at Cannes Lions last week, the new nonprofit has been named The Creative Ladder and is being led by Ryan Reynolds (yes, that one), Dionna Dorsey Calloway, and David Griner.

Other notable marketers, like Common Thread Collective COO Orchid Bertelsen, have been named to the board of directors.

“It's a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to make creative careers—namely advertising, marketing, design, commercial production—more representative of their communities and audiences,” said David Griner on Twitter. Griner is co-founder and chief content officer of The Creative Ladder.

The founders created the nonprofit in response to a few glaring problems regarding equal and diverse representation in the creative industry. 

According to The Creative Ladder’s research:

  • 78% of nonwhite creative professionals said they didn’t know their careers existed when they were in high school
  • 69% said they didn’t know their creative careers existed after graduating from college
  • 92% of creative professionals of color said traditional recruiting practices keep the workforce from becoming more inclusive

Other industry data and qualitative data supports The Creative Ladder’s findings. For example, D&AD.org reports only 11.4% of creative jobs are filled by black, Asian, and minority ethnic people. Moreover, only 11.5% of creative directors in the U.S. are women.

Professional freelance writer and content marketer, Momina, echoed a similar sentiment on Twitter. “​​I didn't know careers as copywriter/content marketer existed before. I graduated as a chemical engineer and the future looked BLEAK!! So glad to have found my passion,” said Momina.

The Creative Ladder’s mission is to actively bridge this gap by making creative careers more accessible to underrepresented communities and driving more awareness of existing opportunities in the creative industry.

The program includes two primary focuses. First, it centers on outreach to students to show them what creative opportunities are available and sets them up with resources and mentors. The program also provides leadership training and networking for new creatives, despite their age or current career.

“Once our programming is live, we'll have virtual and in-person opportunities for leadership training geared toward those in the first 10 years of their careers. We'll also begin our outreach to students at the high school and college levels, connecting those interested with mentors and career resources,” said Griner.

This program is also meant to complement and lift other organizations with similar goals. “We're also fully committed to supporting other organizations that share similar goals. We've avoided creating programs that might compete with existing resources, and we'll be amplifying the work of other nonprofits at every opportunity,” said Griner on Twitter.

While the program won’t officially launch until the Fall, there are several ways to get involved in anticipation of its launch.

“The best way for creative-centric companies to support our launch is to make a donation during this critical time. Those donations will enable us to staff up quickly and have the maximum impact right out of the gate. Donations can be made here or by emailing us at [email protected], said Griner.”