Aardman Equality, Diversity & Inclusion update, February 2022

Published 28th February 2022

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 future productions. This is the third in a series of regular updates documenting our progress. Please see links to our previous updates below.

We wanted to begin this February 2022 update by sharing the findings of our most recent company-wide employee survey, conducted in October/November 2021. We have analysed the results against our previous staff survey (conducted in July/August 2020) to help us assess which of our Equality, Diversity & Inclusion initiatives have resulted in progress and to identify the areas in which we need to increase our efforts. The findings show that:

  • The number of respondents in entry-level positions increased from 5% to 16%, and the proportion of respondents in the 16-29 age bracket increased from 16% to 27%. We believe these figures represent a positive and exciting step forward and are a direct result of the studio proactively creating more trainee roles and apprenticeships. Supporting the aspirations and career development of diverse and emerging animation talent is a key objective for us, not least because it will help create a more diverse talent pool to recruit from in future.

  • The number of our employees who identify as LGBTQ+ has increased from 6% to 13%.

  • 18% of employees identified as an ethnic minority (excluding white minorities), up from 10% last year. In future surveys we will revise the potential responses to this question to be more inclusive and so that we can talk about the representation of different ethnic minority groups in more specific terms.

  • The figures for gender identity have remained roughly as they were, with almost equal proportions identifying as male and female (around 49% each) and a small number of respondents preferring not to answer the question on gender.

  • The areas in which we have seen no significant change are: the number of respondents who consider themselves to have a disability (4% in 2020, 5% in 2021), who consider themselves to have experienced reduced opportunities due to their household’s level of income and/or education (12% in 2020, 11% in 2021), and religious diversity. This tells us that we need to do more to make Aardman a welcoming and inclusive workplace for people with disabilities, people from less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds, and people of different faiths in particular. We already have some initiatives in place which we hope will help us work towards achieving this goal (e.g. we are doubling the number of fully-funded bursary places on our Aardman Academy Industry Training Courses from two to four – please see more on this, and other examples, below), but know there is more that can be done and will report on our progress in our next update.

Moving on to the progress made in the past six months, i.e. from September 2021 to February 2022, we have:

  • Reviewed our work experience framework to reach more students from less advantaged backgrounds. To do this, we have partnered with local charity Ablaze, which exists to tackle inequality of opportunity for young people in the West of England region. With Ablaze, we are planning an immersion week at Aardman for a small group of 10-15 students, involving a selection of activities, careers advice and Q&A sessions from Aardman partners across the studio from creative to business infrastructure positions, covering a variety of roles and routes into the industry. This will be a pilot scheme that will be repeated if successful.

  • Progressed our plans to develop Aardman’s own Diversity Standards, using the BFI Diversity Standards as a starting point. Currently the Aardman ED&I Taskforce is working with the development and production teams to investigate GDPR-compliant methods of gathering, storing and reporting on the production-related data that it’s necessary to collect to ensure these standards are being met.

  • Announced a major new partnership to support emerging and diverse animation talent together with Netflix. This partnership, announced in November 2021, has two main areas of focus: supporting the professional development of emerging and diverse talent already working in the sector, and reaching out to prospective new talent to encourage them to explore a career in the industry. Elements that are already underway include: the development of a stop-motion animation course for 7- to 16-year-olds, a skills enhancement programme for Assistant Animators, and a calendar of free model making workshops for children from less advantaged backgrounds. Through the partnership, Netflix is also funding two further bursaries on the Aardman Academy 12-week Industry Training Courses, meaning four fully-funded places will be available for each iteration of the course in 2022.

In the coming six months, i.e. from March 2022 to August 2022, we will be placing a particular focus on the following areas:

  • Recruiting and successfully onboarding an Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Manager to support delivery of the studio’s Diversity & Inclusion Charter. Please see the job advert, including salary, here, and get in touch if this is you!

  • Rolling out more strands of our partnership with Netflix to support emerging and diverse animation talent. This will include: the launch of our stop-motion animation course for 7- to 16-year-olds, the creation of three new trainee roles across Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget and our recently announced new Wallace & Gromit film, and the pilot of our immersion week for school pupils with Ablaze.

  • Developing a plan to make Aardman a more inclusive workplace for people with disabilities, people from less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds, and people of different faiths in particular, as identified is necessary by our recent staff survey.

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 Claire Brindley, HR Manager – Corporate and member of Aardman’s Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Taskforce, at Claire.Brindley@aardman.com.