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EVCOM THOUGHT PIECE: Tinderflint Takes A Stand

Today, on International Woman’s Day EVCOM shares a thought provoking article from member Eliot Carroll from Tinderflint. Eliot has lived in London all of his life and attended the BRIT school before studying at The University of North London, now London Metropolitan. After a number of years chasing dreams of rock stardom, he worked for several years in a corporate environment before moving into the television industry in 2005 . He set up Tinderflint in 2010 with Rob & Jeremy after seeing the potential in online video and the opportunity to produce great content. Eliot’s experience ranges from client account management, business development, through to broadcast, corporate, and digital production.

I feel that everyone has a role to play in tackling inequality in the workplace. The creative industry is still very much dominated by white middle-classes, with specific roles still being made up predominantly by men. This balance needs to be addressed, not only from a moral perspective but also from a creative one. Opening up the industry to a diverse range of talent can only improve the work we create and ensure that the industry speaks from a multitude of view points and perspectives. As content creators I feel we need to be mindful not only of the content we produce but also the way in which we produce it. As such I’m keen to make sure that talented people are given the chances they deserve. Tinderflint was in part set up because as we wanted to make a tangible difference through our work. It became apparent that we weren’t doing enough to tackle some of the inequality issues that exist within our industry and so we made a conscious decision to try and rectify that, both in front of and behind the camera.

Free The Bid is an initiative to tackle the inequality within the industry by giving female directors equal opportunity to pitch on commercial jobs. Having fantastic directors both in-house and on our roster, we felt it was important to ensure that our female talent should be given the opportunity to shine through. We put forward our female directors, not because they are female, but because they are hugely talented and are amazing at what they do. We eagerly took the pledge last year and will be involving ourselves with a number of other initiatives through 2018.

I’m painfully aware that Tinderflint is still a male dominated company and the irony that this article is being written by a man is not lost on me. I don’t profess to know all of the issues that women experience throughout the industry. I’d suggest that the question would be better answered by a woman rather than me trying to mansplain it. What I do know is that less that 3% of creative directors and less that 7% of directors are women, which is a shocking statistic that highlights the problem that exists within our sector.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, with clear examples of gender inequality very much in the news at the moment. These range from disparities in pay between men and women for doing the same job, through to serious sexual abuse highlighted by the Weinstein case and the #METOO hashtag in response, not to mention the sordid events that took place at The Presidents Club.

I feel that the main problem is that there is simply too much power in the hands of predominantly white middle class males. Sadly, in some cases, this has encouraged an abuse of that power. We are seeing examples of this across the spectrum of our society at the moment, whether the entertainment industry, politics, sport and now the third sector. It is for exactly that reason the status quo has to be challenged and why just being aware of the issue is not enough. We’ve been aware of problems around diversity and gender equality for some time and we need to actively involve ourselves in initiatives that not only change attitudes, but change behaviour. Gender equality is not only a necessity within our industry, but an integral part of building a better society.

At Tinderflint we’ve started to do our bit, but we’re still not doing enough. We do what we can to ensure that everyone has a voice and to provide equal creative opportunities at the agency, but there’s still plenty of work to do.

Ultimately problems around diversity and gender equality are societal ones and as such they need solutions that are wider than any one specific industry. That being said, as an industry that is founded on communicating ideas, I feel that we have an absolute responsibility to champion the cause.