“Diversity isn’t a buzzword, it’s our reality.”
- NUFF SAID Collective
By Amira Hasan | 31st July 2020
CREDIT: NUFF SAID
Now more than ever it is time to stop treating diversity as a fleeting topic. The tragic murder of George Floyd in the United States ignited a global recognition of the injustices faced by black and ethnic minorities every single day. While their voices are now being heard, change doesn’t start and end with conversation. It demands action. This action is exactly what the team at NUFF SAID, an advertisement agency whose sole focus is diversifying the creative industry, have set out to do. Speaking to Lisa Hooper, a founder,
I get insight into the journey they are on and how they intend on establishing better BAME representation in the UK’s creative industries.
The NUFF SAID team found common ground while at university when they noticed, when looking for internship opportunities, that they didn’t see anyone of their own skin colour in the creative industry. Following this, it was Kemi Adeeko, NUFF SAID’s Creative Director, who brought an article from Intern Magazine titled ‘Whitewashed’ by Jaheed Hussain, to the group’s attention. In the article, Hussain expresses his dismay with the underrepresentation of BAME in the creative industry on a whole. Hussain’s article struck a chord with the group; his experience mirrored each of the members' own. This was the defining moment then; sparking the beginning of the collective, now turned agency, in their second year.
“You can’t change facts. They are what they are. If a company can acknowledge this, they will be able to make the necessary steps to ensure much needed change.”
‘Blacklisted’ is one of NUFF SAID’s most recent endeavours; a podcast dedicated to highlighting how change isn’t comfortable. “People need to realise that this view is a reality… We live in an uncomfortable situation, but by addressing it, space can be made for a more comfortable future.” The podcast follows on from their social media campaign ‘Call Out for Change,’ a challenge created for companies to be transparent about the diversity, or lack thereof, amongst their staff and to highlight the lack of employment opportunities given to BAME individuals in the UK. For the companies who have gotten on board, this campaign has been the catalyst for open exploration of the ways they need to diversify their internal structures.
“We just want to use our platform to amplify the voices of ethnic minorities in an industry filled with majority white professionals and designers.”
With many companies taking a rather disingenuous approach, particularly with the scroll and double tap culture of social media, it would seem that many are only interested in “being seen” to be making an effort for change. Lisa highlights that this change has to be internal; it isn’t enough to only be presented with performative allyship as a means of these companies addressing their wrongs. “Things need to be done differently… Once you scroll past that so-called support, you will not find any people of colour being represented at all.”
NUFF SAID wants to get to the core of the problem, with one of their biggest goals being to ensure that leadership roles in the industry are filled with people of colour, and they are well on their way to laying the path for this to happen. Beyond the conversations they initiate, the NUFF SAID team sees the value in conversations, and they seek to actively challenge the way creative companies hire their staff, work with BAME in general and how they can work towards a more diverse future.
Before we part ways, I ask Lisa for any advice NUFF SAID would like to leave for BAME creatives looking to establish their craft. She tells me, passionately: “be yourself. Don’t change your work or the way that you look at things for other people to be happy with it.”
“We stand for creating equal opportunities and rights for everyone, it’s only fair for white people to do that too.”
As change makers who are doing their work with passion and impact, NUFF SAID is undoubtedly a force for the creative industry to watch. More than that, they are making an important change for creative BAME looking to work in what is still a white dominated industry; instilling them with a sense of belonging and comfort in who they are.