Taking steps to create a safe, diverse and inclusive workplace
Celebrated the third week of September in Canada, Gender Equality Week is an opportunity to spotlight the significant contributions that women and gender-diverse communities are making every day.
But awareness and actions to support gender equality doesn’t stop when the week is over. At DNEG we are at the beginning of our journey, taking steps to create a safe, diverse and inclusive workplace. We invest in continuous improvement and allyship all year round so if you are curious to read more about some of the initiatives we have implemented, head over to our equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) page.
We introduced you to our DNEG Proud group in June for Pride month – our employee-led group for the LGBTQAI+ community at DNEG – and showcased a couple of events we held throughout the summer such as ‘Gay and Impatient – Trust the Process’ with Zach Barack and ‘It Starts With U: Uncovering and Understanding Unconscious Bias’ with Amil Reddy.
Today we are pleased to pass the mic to our dnWomen group, represented by Dara McGarry, Outreach Director at DNEG Animation, Chair of dnWomen, and Animation Chair for Animated Women UK.
Hi Dara, thank you for joining us today! Could you start by introducing dnWomen, why the group was created, and its vision?
dnWomen was originally created back in 2015 after a group of like-minded women decided to get together to support and mentor women in our industry, and at DNEG.
Nowadays, dnWomen is a few different things. Two chat channels: one only for women-identifying people where our +400 members can discuss lived experiences, and offer resources and mentorship freely; and one for allies where everyone can ask questions, chat and learn about women’s rights and gender equality, and grow together.
dnWomen is also an employee-led steering committee which aims to create change through support, education and advocacy.
Why is it important to have a group like dnWomen within our studio?
Groups such as dnWomen are vital to any community, especially when it’s as large as DNEG. It’s human nature to gravitate towards those you perceive to be “like you”, in search of inclusion and understanding. By offering safe spaces like dnWomen, we know people have at least one place they can go for advice and support in times they need it. For women, that support can be over female-specific topics from women’s health to maternity, to how to encourage more women to become leads, and how can we support them once they get there. I truly believe that by coming together with a vision and enthusiasm, we can create the change we are (increasingly) keen to experience – including welcoming more women into the workplace.
The group aims to be an agent of change, what does that mean in practice?
Each of us has an idea – or rather a lot of ideas! – on things they would change at work, at home, and in politics. But without a vision, it’s hard to get traction. By combining our efforts and focus, we hope to be able to actually make a difference.
We are celebrating gender equality this week, what does it mean or look like to you?
It’s so easy to make assumptions based on apparent attributes, and gender is one of them. What if you had to work a little bit harder and actually get to know someone’s character before making those decisions? I long for a world where people are treated with respect and dignity regardless of their perceived gender or status; a world where curiosity is fed with knowledge and support, where opportunities are given to those who demonstrate competence. Personally, I want to be treated first and foremost as a human being. The fact that I happen to be a woman is irrelevant.
You’ve been in the industry for over 25 years, is it safe to say that the industry is evolving? What changes have you seen happening at an industry level, and at DNEG, for women specifically?
To be honest, I lost count long ago of how many industry meetings I attended as the only woman. In the past, I was afraid to speak up because I was intimidated, but I was lucky enough to be with (mostly) people who were very inclusive and eventually made me feel comfortable. They taught me so much and I am forever grateful for their support.
Today, the number of women in leadership positions has dramatically changed. Both at DNEG and industry-wide. But it’s not easy to get there! Yet so important!
What is DNEG doing to support gender equality, and specifically women in the industry?
Through our EDI program, we intend to mobilise our resources to Educate and support allies, create targets for recruitment and leadership, and organise workshops for women to help them navigate the landscape. We’ve got a long way to go but we’re taking important steps like launching our mentoring program for instance.
What do you think people, regardless of their gender, could do to support and promote gender equality, at their own level?
I encourage people to get into the practice of pausing before making those biased, unconscious or otherwise, judgments such as “I have a technical question, so I’ll ask the guy in the room. The woman is probably the producer.” (or vice-versa!). And think about the language they use: “I screamed like a girl.” or “Man up.” If we took the time to get to know each other as humans, and not just men, women, or any other gender… we would be a much kinder, more inclusive society.
FIND OUT MORE
To learn about Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at DNEG, our employee-led groups, programmes and partners, click here.
To get to know Dara McGarry, read her FOCUS interview here.
And if you are interested in joining our team and building your career at DNEG, check out our open positions.