What’s KTG all about?
Kerning the Gap is a community that Nat Maher started in 2015, aimed at getting more women into leadership roles within the design industry. For several years she had been noticing less and less women at the tables she sat at and asking herself the question “where have all the women gone…?”.
After reaching her first MD role, she finally having the confidence to say she was a bone fide ‘woman in leadership’ (feel familiar?) and felt both a need and a responsibilityto do something to unite the agencies in our sector, to come together to start challenging the issues that are leading to such a lack of diversity at the top of our field.
Why do we need it?
67% of design grad are women, but currently only 17% are Creative Directors*. The design industry is dominated by SMEs and micro businesses (98% of design agencies have less than 50 people in them), so the usual government legislation, such as publishing pay scales and HR policies, tend not to apply. Often design agencies are owner lead – predominantly by men – so the representation of women in the upper levels of agency leadership is woefully poor, and the role models for our aspiring leaders simply aren’t accessible.
We wanted to create a community that not only discussed these issues, but empathised with agency leaders about the challenges they faced in tackling them, offering practical advice and programmes that support both business and the individuals within them.
We’ve all sat listening to senior women talking to other senior women about how they’d already made it into their position. Whilst this kind of communion is valuable, it’s inaccessible to junior women who would love to learn these lessons. And many of them are focused purely around female creativity, and yet we have numerous roles in our industry that are client, strategy and support focused – which badly lack representation.
“The most striking observation I had was why aren’t the men part of this conversation? As (almost) 50% of the population, and over 70% of our leadership, they are a critical part of the dialogue as we work out how to improve the opportunities for women in our industry.” - Nat Maher, Founder
What’s the mission?
And so the mission, and core pillars of Kerning the Gap were built; our aim to see more diversity in leadership roles and by doing so, improve the opportunities for people at every level, and 1) make it accessible to all levels, 2) invite every discipline to the conversation and 3) to acknowledge men as a part of the solution, not the problem.
1. All levels
No fancy club memberships, no exclusive rooms for executives only, and absolutely no barriers to entry.
Kerning the Gap is open to all levels - from juniors to CEOs - because we know that learning and experiences are all valid and all valuable, up and down the design landscape.
2. All roles
There are some brilliant networks that focus on the profile of diversity in creativity, but our mission is broader than that.
We don’t believe that any role in the agency makes you a second class citizen. Every bum on every seat is crucial to the day-to-day running of a studio, and your opportunities to lead are all equal, and your voices are needed.
3. All genders
Men are not the enemy. They’re a critical part of the solution. Without every member of our industry being actively involved in change, we’ll never achieve the equality we strive for.
Kerning the Gap is a safe, inclusive and welcoming space for everyone in design to take action. However you identify.