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FCB Inferno Launches Pioneering Creative Training Program to Encourage Diversity in the Industry

Press Release - London, 24 March 2016

March 23, 2016 – In a move to recruit a richer mix of female talent into creative departments, FCB Inferno has partnered with The GirlHood to launch a pilot creative traineeship program for 18- to 24-year-old girls from diverse backgrounds.

Nine girls will take part in the five-week initiative, which launches on April 11. In collaboration with FCB Inferno, The GirlHood has created a unique program to immerse the girls in the creative industry. Through their creative value curriculum, which places equal value on developing character, culture and creativity, the traineeship will prepare the young women for life as professional creatives. Both the training and work experience will take place in the agency, positioning the girls at center of the business. They’ll also gain exposure to industry events including Advertising Week Europe and the D&AD Festival. At the end of the five weeks, FCB Inferno aims to hire at least one of the participants as a creative intern, with the opportunity for a permanent position thereafter.

In order to reach out further than the usual talent channels, recruitment partner Create Jobs is generating interest from over 150 organizations across London, targeting young women through organizations like Job Centre Plus and The Prince’s Trust. The nine trainees who make it through the selection process will earn an apprenticeship wage during the program, gain an Arts Awards accreditation, build a personal portfolio, have a dedicated mentor and be guaranteed an interview for the placement opportunity.

The GirlHood was cofounded in 2015 by Kati Russell, a former senior New Blood program manager at D&AD, and Natalie Rodden, formally an outstanding Teach First teacher, with the aim of transitioning girls with creative potential from culture consumers to culture producers. Over the past year they have delivered workshops for over 200 girls with various creative agencies and for events like the Southbank’s WOW festival and V&A’s London Design Week. The two will oversee the girls throughout the course.

The partnership with FCB Inferno came about after Nic Willison, the senior strategist on “This Girl Can,” watched Kati speak about The GirlHood on a panel at the London 3% Conference. The pair sparked up a conversation around the action needed in the industry to increase diversity, and in the following months the scheme came to life.

Kati, cofounder of The GirlHood, says, “We launched The GirlHood out of frustration that creativity in adland seems largely the preserve of the middle class, and it isn’t a place where you can easily enter without the right credentials. We want to propel a group of talented girls from diverse backgrounds into creative careers. However, we can’t assume what young people need to succeed, we have to build it together. This pilot will enable us to test a new learning experience and cocreate something with the participants that can have a wider impact.”

Owen Lee, joint chief creative officer at FCB Inferno, says, “The creative industry has been commenting for years about the lack of women in our departments, but very little has been done to truly address this. Our FCB Inferno/The Girlhood initiative is an exciting, bold step to change the status quo and forge a new way to recruit more diverse talent – and ultimately produce more relevant and even better creative.”

Sumi Ejiri, partnerships manager at Create Jobs, says, “Opportunities like this are essential in helping establish an equal playing field for young Londoners. A generation of creative talent is being lost to expensive degrees, a lack of good quality apprenticeships, and way too many unpaid entry-level positions. We hope this project sets a precedent for the industry to actively invest in the diversity and resilience of their future workforce.”


Top Row L-R: Natalie Rodden (cofounder of The GirlHood), Becky McOwen-Banks (Creative Director at FCB Inferno), and Nic Willison (Senior Strategist at FCB Inferno)

Bottom Row L-R: Kati Russell (cofounder of The GirlHood), Heather van der Merwe (Senior Account Director at FCB Inferno), Sumi Ejiri (Create Jobs Partnership Manager) 


Research has identified the industry’s diversity issue as both a social and business challenge. According to a study by DCMS, the “more advantaged groups” make up 91.9% of occupations in the creative economy: additionally, this group has experienced 17% employment growth since 2011, compared to 2% growth for the less-advantaged group. However, McKinsey’s “Diversity Matters” paper highlighted that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians, and those in the top quartile for gender equality are 15% more likely.


FCB Inferno is the London agency of global advertising network FCB. The network dates back to 1873, and now has 9,000 employees in 90 countries, with 200 at FCB Inferno. The agency is fully integrated, delivering all advertising services under one roof, such as TV, Retail, Social Media and Outdoor.

FCB Inferno’s clients sit across industry sectors and currently include BMW, NIVEA, Microsoft and Oreo. In 2015 FCB Inferno was one of the most awarded UK agencies for the Sport England campaign “This Girl Can,” developed to encourage women and girls to exercise regularly.


In “the ‘hood,” we find girls with creative potential and transition them from culture – consumers to culture – creators. Our goal is to encourage a richer mix of women to join the creative industries. So, we work with girls, aged 11-24, from diverse backgrounds. Through our creative value curriculum, courses and content, we get these girls ready for the industry, and the industry ready for the girls. We’re opening access to creative careers for those who need it most.

The GirlHood is powered by Play in Progress, a social enterprise that helps young people profit from their creativity – personally, socially and financially.


Create Jobs helps young Londoners aged 16-25 find work opportunities in the creative industries. We work with educators and industry to raise aspirations and build the skills of London’s next creative generation.

We are delivered by A New Direction in partnership with Create London.