Published 30th August 2023

Aardman Equality, Diversity & Inclusion update, August 2023

Aardman is committed to being open and transparent about the work we are doing to improve representation throughout our workforce and to increase the level of on-screen diversity in our productions. This is the sixth in a series of regular updates documenting our progress. Please see links to our previous updates below.

Progress made in the previous six months (March - August 2023):

One of the priority actions we identified in our last update was to further analyse the results of our staff survey and decide on the steps to take as a result.

Reviewing the responses, paying particular attention to the things that employees said they wanted to see more of, we identified four focus areas: 1) increasing representation on and off screen 2) gender equality 3) outreach and 4) internal comms.

Here are the actions we’ve taken under each of those four focus areas in the past six months:

Increasing representation on and off screen:

  • In the spring, we celebrated World Autism Acceptance Week (27 March – 2 April) with events, activities and training opportunities that would help us achieve this goal including:

    • An online panel discussion with Aardman representatives plus Simon Taylor from Blue Zoo, Paul Brown and Wallace Fennessy from FlyCheese and Sumita Majumdar from Paper Owl (creators of Pablo, an award-winning animated pre-school series about an autistic boy and his imaginary friends).

    • Neurodiversity & Disability Awareness Training offered to all Heads of Department and line-managers. (Following this training, a toolkit for line-managers is also being developed and distributed.)

    • Information about neurodiversity and inclusive vocabulary published on the intranet for all staff to read.

  • In July, we celebrated and supported Bristol Pride by collaborating on a limited run of consciously produced t-shirts and tote bags, celebrating what it means to be a diverse and inclusive city. Earlier this year, we invited Aardman partners to submit their designs, and the winning entry, ‘Show Your Colours’, was created by Junior Set Dresser and Prop Maker, Georgie Ball. All proceeds are going directly to Bristol Pride and you can read more about the partnership here.

  • Along with a collective of 13 other Bristol-based creative businesses, we launched the Bristol Creative Industries Internship Programme, which seeks to open the door to a career in the creative industries for young people from underrepresented backgrounds. Our first intern from the programme joined us in May and our second starts at the end of August.

Gender equality:

  • Together with our AardWomen group (the Voice for Gender Equality at Aardman), we planned a number of events and initiatives around International Women’s Day (8th March), including:

    • Fundraising £882 for the charity Bloody Good Period which gives period products to those who can’t afford them and provides reproductive health education to those less likely to access it.

    • Using our Aardman ‘Spotlight Series’ to highlight women at Aardman including Junior Set Dresser and Prop Maker, Heather Carby; Archivist, Zoe Critchley; and Trainee Junior VFX Artist, Sabine Zola.

    • Holding a screening of three short films by women at Aardman (directors Georgie Ball and Zoe Hutber and lead modelmaker Maria Colladobonu), which played to a packed house.

  • We supported a staff-led mentoring scheme to help employees help one another progress in their careers. This was originally intended to support women at Aardman but was then offered to all employees. The initial pilot matched 38 pairs of employees for a six-month trial. Of the 38 mentees, 32 were women, which we hope means the scheme achieved its initial goal of supporting career progression for women at Aardman whilst also being inclusive of all employees. Mentees said: “Learning from my mentor has helped me look inwards and figure out the next steps for my career from a different angle” and “It is really helpful to have someone holding me accountable and to discuss things with”.

  • Our Head of Production HR, Nat Collier, led a townhall meeting breaking down data on the gender pay gap at Aardman and highlighting what the studio is doing to close the gap. The session also provided all partners with tools to understand the statistics, to help build a transparent culture around this and keep driving change.

Outreach to local communities:

  • We visited Oasis Academy Brightstowe and hosted activities in the Family Tent at Bristol Pride, to inform more young people about career opportunities within the animation industry.

  • We welcomed to the studio a group of young women from acta (a Community Theatre that brings together people from different cultures, experiences, and generations to make and share creative work) for a workshop on art direction, and a group from Future Brunels (a programme which aims to inspire and enthuse young people with science and engineering throughout their time at secondary school).

Internal comms:

  • We started a monthly EDI update that is now sent to all employees, covering EDI news and upcoming events, activities and training opportunities.

  • We completed our new ‘people and culture hub’, which will host our calendar of Celebrations & Awareness Events going forward. The hub will launch along with the new company intranet in September.

  • We finalised our review of HR policies to ensure inclusive vocabulary is used throughout and EDI is incorporated at every level.

  • Aardman’s Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Manager has also started working with the Business Affairs team to do the same for contracts.

Of the further goals we set in our last six-monthly update, the two that we have not yet completed are: finalising and rolling-out our new anti-racism and transitioning at work policies. Work is underway on both, and this will be completed by the time of our next six-monthly update in February 2024.

Priorities for the coming six months (September 2023 – February 2024)

Our main priority for the coming six months will be to continue working on the four focus areas identified in our last staff survey. For example, we are planning to:

  • Expand our work with Flycheese, a digital art and design studio that specialises in ‘training and providing opportunities in the industry for people who need support to live their lives’.

  • Work towards closing our gender pay gap by further improving our recruitment processes, increasing transparency on wages and promotions, continuing the mentoring scheme and relaunching our gender pay focus group – amongst other things.

  • Find ways to support our partners to do more community outreach, for example by helping them to carve out time in their schedules.

  • Ensure partners are actively engaging with the ‘people and culture hub’ when it launches, to address the desire for more internal communications on EDI.

We will also be conducting our annual staff survey in this period, which we will report on in our next update, and we will finalise and roll-out our new anti-racism and transitioning at work policies as set out above.

If you would like to know more about the above, or are a partner who would like to support one of our initiatives, please contact Pauline Mallam, our Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Manager, at