Throughout my life I have been reminded of my skin colour, this is not to say that it has always been negative; but from a young age I was aware. For instance, I strive to do my best in everything I do because I must remember I am 'privileged'. My Mother was born in Ghana, and came to the U.K. to ensure her unborn children at the time would reap the benefits of having a great education. Because of this, I was continuously reminded that I should feel privileged and not take my education for granted. I studied Business Management at Kingston University, this was seen as a big achievement. Graduating in my culture abroad represents intelligence, I mean Ghanaian's love a good gloat! Who doesn't? Regardless your background I am sure seeing your child graduate is everything. I have grown up being reminded by friends and family that I am 'privileged', and must not forget if it were not for my Mother my life would be different.
I chose to study Business Management, although this is a broad degree being the eldest sibling going against the advised career path was risky. Not to generalise the whole African community, you may be told as an African child to aspire to become a Doctor, Lawyer or Finance professional. After graduating I realised very quickly that my degree gave me the opportunity to work in various sectors. I considered working in the Finance industry, this was so I could possibly set the 'right' example for my younger sisters by listening to my elders. As silly as it sounds, until you begin working a 9-5 job after university you do not realise the importance of company culture. My mentor Shirani Rajapaksa once told me to make a list of things I enjoyed e.g building relationships. After writing down a long list of activities I enjoyed as an individual, Account Management seemed lit!
Fast forward a year or so, I found myself working in the creative industry. Diversity in the workplace is essential, especially in the advertising industry. As I previously mentioned, I have always been reminded of my skin colour but working in the creative industry I clearly forgot! Until one day I was presented with a stat from We Are Stripes "13% of creative industry workforce identify as Black and Minority Ethnic Groups (BAME) background". Then it immediately brought my attention to adweek, I remember seeing a black female and she smiled at me. Not your I don't know you but I am going to be friendly kind of smile, but a I'm happy to see you smile. Then I thought to myself 'duh' that was the 'someone like me' effect. We both represented a minority, this is something I do also but did not spot until the other day.
I began to ask myself why is there a minority disparity in the creative industry. Then I began to think, why wouldn't there be? I am not saying this is the only reason why, but from a young age certain industries were viewed as money-making; the creative industry was not one I remember being mentioned. Being young I thought the adults that advised knew it all! Not to forget, some minorities feel the media continue to portray their communities, music and lifestyle in a negative light. Did all these reasons that came to mind really influence the choice of industry in the BAME community?
Unfortunate to say, if I were not a 'risk-taker' in the eyes of those that advised me, I would have definitely became a Doctor or Lawyer not to discredit the profession as they are rewarding occupations. Companies within the creative industry must take it upon themselves to visit universities and create awareness around the amazing opportunities. I get that we must use our initiative to seek opportunity, but without exposure how do I as a minority identify such opportunity with a sheltered mind.