When Ben Van Raay sits down in his editing chair, he is the same as every other film editor in the business.
“I love that I can be exactly who I am,” says Van Raay. “I can be creative and push the boundaries of what I can do as a person, without limitations.”
Van Raay, who is in a wheelchair, works with Wallara, a disability service provider. He has been working to build his career as a videographer and video editor since he took Wallara’s video editing course in 2014.
But too often, his career growth is limited by an industry not designed to support his needs. He will be hired for a shoot only to find out the location or the studio is not wheelchair accessible, or it is in a location he can’t get to, or tables will be inappropriately positioned, or equipment will not be height adjustable.
“Inclusion is much more than putting in ramps and having accessible toilets,” says Jay Pinkster, the Digital Communications Manager at Wallara.
“To be truly inclusive, businesses need to be flexible and innovative in the way they recruit and support people with disabilities.”
The benefits of diversity and inclusion in advertising and marketing are clear. According to a 2019 Google survey, 64 per cent of consumers were motivated to buy products after seeing an ad that they considered diverse or inclusive.
Beyond consumption, Microsoft released research that found that companies running inclusive ads are regarded as “more trustworthy” by 68 per cent of women and 60 per cent of men.
Many production companies have begun to build diversity and inclusion into their casting and creative processes and in-content representation – the content that audiences see – has improved. But creative diversity – the contributors or creators “behind the screen” – has lagged behind.
“Research, time and time again, has proven that a genuine workplace culture of diversity and inclusion improves productivity, staff retention and job satisfaction,” said The LOTE Agency CEO, David Bartlett.
“I honestly believe there is a strong level of motivation within the advertising industry to improve cultural diversity in front of and behind the lens, however, a degree of anxiety or nervousness remains on how to actually make it happen.”
That’s why when Icon Agency acquired its new creative production hub, The Content Garden, it worked with The LOTE Agency and Able Australia on how to create an inclusive and accessible space.
Located within Richmond’s iconic Rosella Complex, The Content Garden is equipped as a fully agile Auslan studio, with specialised equipment to create video and audio content for deaf, blind and deaf/blind audiences; all held within a facility that welcomes those with impaired mobility.
“We know that diversity and inclusion in the production and creation of content is vital to ensuring that the content itself reflects the lived experiences of diverse audiences,” said Icon’s Group Managing Director, Joanne Painter.
“We made a conscious effort to make our facilities inclusive but even then, there were aspects we missed,” added Painter.
“It wasn’t until we spoke to Ben at Wallara that we realised there were elements we had missed, such as wheelchair accessible bathrooms. That’s the value of inclusion across the production process – it allows everyone to see the project from a different point of view.”
“Creating a more accessible world is about taking a broader view of our community and spending the time to find out what will work best for everyone,” says Chandi Piefke, the National Director of Marketing and Engagement at Able Australia.
“The Content Garden in Richmond is a small example of what is possible. By making the space more accessible, a broader range of people and voices are also then able to join the group. This can only lead to richer content that will benefit us all.”
By working with colleagues at Able Australia and partners at The LOTE Agency, the Icon team learnt a lot about effective creative diversity policies through The Content Garden, including:
Consult, consult, consult.
The first thing any production team should do is talk to experts to understand the needs of a diverse and inclusive production company.
“People may not realise aspects of the process that are difficult for people with a disability,” says Meredith Prain of Able Australia, who has a vision impairment.
“For example, because I can only access part of the screen at once; attending large meetings with over 20 attendees, it is very hard to know who was speaking. It’s also very difficult to see shared documents in meetings, so I’d need to be prepared and have the doc opened on my desktop.”
Invest in adaptive technology.
Often teams will need to invest in adaptive technology and processes to support people with different needs. For Bella Firth, a creative designer at Wallara who has cerebral palsy, the team had to buy a custom-made mouse and keyboard that create a separate keyboard on the screen.
“I need to be able to use two hands on the mouse, so this mouse allows me to draw and type on the computer,” says Firth.
Talk about diversity and inclusion.
It’s not enough to have the policies – to attract talent, you have to talk about creative diversity and what you are doing to support it.
Think about how you hire.
Creating opportunities for work experience and internships can help people without prior experience learn and grow.
“Neurologically diverse people may need to transition into employment rather than having an abrupt start,” says Jay Pinkster.
“Creating work experience opportunities, traineeships and reduced hours initially can help to build more accessible pathways into employment.”
Representation means every sector of society.
While diversity of race, gender, sexuality and religion are vital, diversity also means including people with a range of disabilities, all age groups, and socio-economic diversity.
According to Facebook, people with disabilities were severely under-represented in online ads (1 per cent of the ads examined) as were members of the LGBTQ+ community (0.3 per cent).
A 2021 study estimated that a person can encounter up to 10,000 ads per day. Each one of those ads not only sells a product or an idea, but it also can shape attitudes and change behaviours.
Ads can make us see similarities instead of differences, ability instead of disability and opportunity instead of limitations. But we can only create those ads if the people behind them have the lived experience to tell real stories, in a real way.
Find out more about The Content Garden, Victoria’s newest for hire video production and studio complex, in the heart of Cremorne today.
B&T’s sister publication Travel Weekly will be hosting its annual Travel Daze conference in Sydney on June the 9th and better still you’re invited and, even more fantastically, tickets are free! Yep, zilch, zero, nix! The full-day event will be staged at Paddington’s Chauvel Cinema in inner-Sydney and boasts an incredible and eclectic speaker line-up […]
On election day, instant grocery company VOLY, took to Sydney electorates to call out the wild and confusing things that make up our election process. The campaign featured a combination of walking billboards, social media and surprise ‘Democracy sausage’ deliveries to polling booths across Sydney. VOLY was able to cut through the noise and position […]
Plummeting prices of cryptocurrencies, hacking and stealing of overpriced non-fungible tokens, an uncontrollable market that seems to operate on the moods of those who run it… All these are elements which are making marketers pull the breaks on their plans to invest within the world of digital real estate. But is all this coming to […]
In this guest post, Stu Wragg (main photo), chief strategy officer at Herd MSL, says your best work so often happens when you’re well out of your comfort zone… There’s a lot to be said for feeling comfortable but when it comes to professional development, it’s uncomfortable experiences, not comfortable ones, that matter most. For […]
Introducing youtime.com – a considered curation of content, products and services all designed to help enhance your ‘you time’. Unlike anything else in the Australian market, youtime is set to lead the way in a new-age breed of digital destinations; where editorial leads eCommerce, retail becomes a service, shopping meets experience, and everything is grounded […]
SBS has today launched SBS WorldWatch, an all-new free-to-air multilingual news channel. The dedicated 24-hour channel features news bulletins from leading international broadcasters in more than 35 languages and is home to SBS’s Arabic and Mandarin television news bulletins – SBS عربي News and SBS 中文 News. The launch of the channel builds on SBS’ […]
Xandr today announced three key senior appointments to the team, the first under new ANZ managing director, Nicole Prior, as the company eyes expansion. Mark Serhan is appointed to the newly created role of commercial director, Philip Coetzee becomes associate director – product management, and Archana Ganesh becomes associate director – APAC product support lead. […]
The Australian Fashion Council (AFC) – the peak body for the Australian fashion and textile industry – has launched Australian Fashion Trademark. The Australian Fashion™ and ‘Fashion Evolution: From Farm to Industry’ launched at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week. Over the next 10 years, the industry has the potential to deliver an additional $10.8 billion in […]
According to reports, the SpaceX and Tesla owner, Elon Musk, asked a flight attendant for an “erotic massage” then proceeded to touch her inappropriately without her permission. He then gave her over $350,000 to keep her from talking about it. The report, which originally came from the Insider, cites a close friend of the flight […]