The conversation around equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace has been building for some time, but 2018 was a pivotal year in the VFX and animation industry, as we saw the community rally around to tackle the issue head-on.
The cross-company initiative Access:VFX embarked on a UK tour with an army of industry specialists and recruiters, ready to inform, inspire, and dispel the myth that only graduates can work in VFX. At Siggraph 2018, a separate summit was hosted dedicated to truly understanding diversity and the concept of unconscious bias. Animation UK continued its tireless work with the BFI, ScreenSkills and the NextGen Skills Academy to tackle the high proportion of skills shortages within UK animation. And Women in Animation, Animated Women and other organisations continue to fight for gender equality.
Blue Zoo is entirely committed to building a fully inclusive studio and have recently hit the target of employing a 50/50 workforce of male to female employees.
Across modelling, animation and lighting/compositing for three of our biggest productions we are also gender equal in our lead roles. Fantastic news, but we’re not resting on our laurels as there’s work to do to remove the barriers that are inhibiting women from taking on many of the technical roles, mainly still held by men.
Beer O'Clock on a Friday at Blue Zoo
Whilst gender equality remains high on the news agenda, thanks to the release of gender pay gap figures and the #MeToo movement, we need to keep the conversation going around diversity and inclusion. In the creative industries it’s essential that every voice is heard - so we can tell authentic stories that fully represent society. Diversity fosters creativity. Quoting Passion’s Debbie Crosscup in a recent article by It’s Nice That, “We become a more rounded company if we can authentically tell any story that comes in the door.”
In Animation UK’s 2018 skills analysis of the animation industry ‘We need to talk about skills’, it’s reported that only 9% of the workforce is from a minority ethnic background, compared to 12.5% nationally. Despite skills shortages in the industry we’re clearly not reaching all groups with the knowledge, tools and inspiration to break into the industry. We must maintain the momentum from 2018 and keep talking to people who may not have considered a career in the industry.
As we swiftly move through 2019 and open the doors to our new 2D studio, we look forward to welcoming more talented and hard-working individuals regardless of education, age, gender, ethnicity, culture, religion, social status or sexual orientation. And we’ll continue to work hard to truly understand inclusiveness: more training to reveal our unconscious bias, bespoke leadership development, workshops to encourage confident communication, and internship and mentoring programmes to pave the way for future colleagues.
At the Spark FX conference in Vancouver last weekend, Charmaine Chan who heads up Women in VFX, spoke at the diversity and inclusion summit about ‘humanising the industry’. This is fundamental to Blue Zoo’s ethos - we actively encourage open discussions, democratic working processes and honest dialogue. Everyone’s opinion counts.
Blue Zoo’s culture is based on open communication, and is one that encourages ideas and contributions from all of our staff members. That in turn creates a welcoming space that people from a variety of genders, races, backgrounds and lifestyles are attracted to and can progress within, because no one is excluded from an opportunity to give input/develop. Katie Gascoyne, Talent & Recruitment Coordinator