Hanna speaks with Corinne Daldorph Nielsen, an Art Director at Annex88, who participated in Fearless Futures’ Design for Inclusion program (DFI) when she was doing a Digital Media Creative Masters at HyperIsland.
What were your expectations of the DFI?
I didn’t know too much about it because I joined as it was a class at HyperIsland. I felt pretty negatively towards it initially and felt as though I already knew it all. I didn’t want to go after the first day. On day 2, I experienced how hard it is to realize that you are not doing the ‘right’ things. We did a privilege exercise and I started to realize how unaware I’ve been and that there are plenty of things I’ve never had to consider. I was doing a lot of things wrong. Things that needed to change. And the first step was to realize.
Was there a lightbulb moment?
One of the biggest moments was an activity where I stood inside the patriarchy — and also outside the patriarchy (so to speak). I realized that I had been working against women in my identity as a ‘tomboy’. And how that identity led to me having guys who told me that I am one of a few women that they respect, something I at first thought was a positive thing. I then came to the realization how screwed up the comments actually are. I had heard those comments before. Working against women didn’t give me anything.
What did you learn?
- I learned a lot of different things. I learned that we can always learn new things and change, and how important it is to strive to learn more and be better. Going into the class I thought I knew everything, but now I realize — as a white, Swedish woman I didn’t know shit about this stuff. Having the mentality that I can always learn new things and keep an open mindset was a major takeaway for me.
- In my work, not just thinking about how much money influencers can make you — looking to showcase diversity. Telling staff to keep in mind that not everything revolves around money. Showcase the world we actually live in, rather than the world that we have been shown.
- Working together with women. What is authentic female leadership? Leading with compassion. That is a boss. I want women to understand that they don’t need to take on toxic behaviors to be taken seriously.
- Every day I kept thinking I would go home during the program because it was hard — but I didn’t! It was literally life-changing. I am so grateful to Fearless Futures, for taking the time to teach this to people. There were a lot of things I said, and you and Priya never said I was wrong. Having that open setup really helped me. Now when I go into those situations, I have an open mindset — on how we can reach a common goal.
- The DFI class has forever changed my mind.
What actions have you taken?
During the program, we dissected adverts and a range of companies and their structures and actions. I have started to look at advertising, to start with, through a lens of representation. I have the courage to call out to clients that their entire website, social media content, and brand identity are centered around white people because if I don’t, no one else will.
Has it informed your leadership style?
Yes, for sure. I used to be like — if you want to cry, cry in the bathroom. That is not the best way to do it. I really thought about that a lot going into the DFI. That hadn’t done anything for me — me crying in the bathroom wasn’t good for me either. That is something that I am working to change — taking 5 mins to ask what is on someone’s mind. Really seeing the people that you work with and their struggles. At the end of the day, I don’t know anything about the problems that they are struggling with.
Has your worldview changed?
My experiences at DFI opened my eyes to so many positive and negative elements of the working world. One idea that stuck with me, and has continued to shape my thinking in my career, is the persistence of racism in the ad industry. Advertising shapes culture and we advertising creatives have a responsibility to push the boundaries. We must work to widen and extend representation in advertising beyond cis white people. We need to encourage our clients and employers to work together to achieve equality and belonging. Although advertising is only one piece of the puzzle, it is an important piece that I, working in advertising, can impact.
I just want to say thank you, for real! DFI has enlightened my thinking. I’ve learned how being a cis white female has impacted my own thinking, and have worked to think beyond my own reality. I do my best to listen to others and internalize their experiences. This has bettered me, my work, and my character.