A New Angle: The Offsite founders on making a seat at the table for womxn of colour

Creative producers Pamela Peter-Agbia and Amy Dick were keen to develop their careers toward leadership positions but saw a lack of supportive programmes for womxn of colour, so they made their own.

5 January 2021

A New Angle is a new editorial series that aims to give a platform to creative industry changemakers who make it their mission to disrupt the status quo. Each week we’ll chat to a person or team doing important work in the sector, making it a fairer place, championing vital causes, supporting underrepresented groups and tackling pertinent issues facing creatives everywhere.

This week we meet the founders of The Offsite, a programme and community aimed at getting more womxn of colour into leadership positions in the creative industry. Pamela Peter-Agbia and Amy Dick, both experienced creative producers, first set out to find support and guidance in helping them climb the ladder but, finding a lack of initiatives that understood how to navigate race, culture and gender on that journey, decided to create one.

It’s Nice That: What is your mission, and what are you hoping to change in the creative industry?

Pamela Peter-Agbia: We want to make more seats at the table for womxn and non-binary people of colour in leadership across the creative sector. Noting the momentum around diversity and inclusion, we are still often the lowest beneficiaries of diverse leadership initiatives. This is despite the significant barriers we face in ‘making it’ to positions of power. And keeping those seats once there.

Last year, a report by McKinsey and Lean In showed diversity initiatives achieved a 24 per cent increase in leadership positions for womxn and less than 5 per cent for womxn of colour. That’s great for womxn generally, but not much of a success story for womxn of colour.

One problem is that initiatives designed to increase gender and racial equality often explore these as singular barriers to progression. However, the double standards, micro-aggressions, and lack of recognition womxn of colour experience often exist at the intersection of race and gender bias. We often end up in this weird state of being hyper visible and invisible in our respective teams, organisations, and industries – this disparity is just one example of that.

Through The Offsite we are designing a peer-led leadership programme centring the voices and experiences of womxn of colour across the creative sector. Together, we want to explore ways of leading that are inclusive and effective for us and share this back to the industry, so womxn can have better experiences when they do enter positions of leadership.

We’ve decided to take a top-down focus because the bottom-up approach of creating entry-level opportunities only goes so far. Change ultimately comes from the top, so that’s where we need to be.

INT: Tell us about your background, or the background to the organisation, and what led you to this point.

Amy Dick: Well, we work as brand consultants and creative producers across the arts, media and tech. Collectively, our work has taken us to every corner of the sector, from the arts, fashion and beauty, to media, museums and entertainment. We’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with incredible people all over the world. But in every space we have entered, we have seen very few womxn who look like us in top positions of leadership.

We connected in 2018 over a shared ambition to recognise and support womxn and people of colour who are leading in the sector, whether they have the title and status or not. At the time, we also wanted to develop our skills as leaders, and were looking for some kind of course or programme to do. We felt it was important, however, to be part of something that could speak to and understand our context navigating race, culture and gender at work.

In exploring what was already out there, we found great initiatives for womxn or people of colour but, as mentioned, limited options relevant to our complex intersectional experiences. So we decided to create one.

INT: What are the major challenges you’re facing, and why?

PP-A: Of course, like everyone else, we’ve had to navigate being in the middle of a global pandemic. We were ready to launch a programme at the beginning of last year alongside some partnerships. But out of necessity, those had to take a back seat, limiting our ability to scale.

That said, it’s important that we still find ways to collaborate. Our main focus now is partnering with organisations across the creative industries to increase our reach and community. Through these partnerships, we hope womxn of colour from every discipline will come to know us and each other. Every week we discover amazing womxn doing amazing things in their respective spaces, and think: “How are we only just finding out about this incredible person now?”

Another challenge is sustainability. Leadership is a skill that is practiced and developed over time, so a one-on-one workshop or course just didn’t make sense to us. We didn’t want to create something pretending to have answers to all of the questions and challenges of leadership that womxn may come across in their daily lives.

INT: How are you tackling these challenges?

AD: On the sustainability front, we have spent time designing a programme that can be long-lasting yet cost effective. The Offsite is focused around peer-led, research-based lessons on leadership that womxn across the sector can access at any stage of their career.

One thing we have learned so far is that there is no single path to success and no one way to lead. Our stories, experiences, and ambitions are as unique as they are connected – and we can learn a lot from each other.

Alongside that, we are also working on a podcast series to open up these conversations to a wider audience. Consider it a home for the shared strategies and success stories of womxn leading in their respective spaces.

INT: How can the creative industry help your mission?

PP-A: Well, anyone who is still reading this must be a like-minded fan of our mission! Hello, and here are a few easy things you can do:

Share The Offsite with your networks. Follow us on Instagram @the_offsite. Talk to womxn who you think should know about us. And connect us with other allies who can support our work.

Elsewhere, we still want to lock down some partnerships – new and old – this year. So we’d love to hear from organisations and teams who can help realise the next stage of our work. Say hello@the-offsite if that’s you!

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About the Author

Jenny Brewer

After five years as It’s Nice That’s news editor, Jenny became online editor in June 2021, now overseeing the website’s daily editorial output. Contact her with stories, pitches and tips relating to the creative industries on jb@itsnicethat.com.

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