Inclusivity: A hot topic at SIGGRAPH 2018

DNEG’s Zoe Cranley on hosting panels about inclusivity in the CG and VFX industries

The 2018 SIGGRAPH conference took place in Vancouver, earlier this month, giving attendees the opportunity to hear from industry thought leaders and innovators, and to get up close to the latest technology.

And this year there was another hot topic on the conference’s agenda that delegates were eager to discuss: How to make the CG and VFX industries more inclusive for under-represented groups.

On the first day of the five-day event, organisers ran a Diversity and Inclusion Summit. This included a panel discussion, and a workshop led by Dr Caroline Simard of Stanford University’s Women Leadership Innovation Lab, who shared research on the effects of subconscious biases. Then, before the conference closed on Thursday, another inclusivity panel was held. This time, the focus was on innovative ways to increase inclusivity in recruitment.

Zoe Cranley (pictured above right), Head of Build at DNEG Vancouver and Chair of SPARKCG, a non-profit organisation that fosters creativity and collaboration in the CG community, chaired both of these panel discussions.

“We had a really good response. For the first panel we had over 100 people and the audience was very diverse,” she explains. “It really felt like we were talking to those people who can make a difference; these were leaders in recruitment roles and people in positions to make a change.”

As the moderator and organiser of the panel, Zoe helped assemble a diverse set of panellists from across the VFX, CG and animation industries.

“The panellists were very open with their personal experiences of the bias and barriers they had encountered and there were a number of poignant moments,” continues Zoe.

“I was keen to cast the net wide and ensure the panel was as diverse and original as possible. For the first panel, we ended up with a fantastic line-up of women from six different companies, all with very different roles, personalities and experiences.”

 A vision for greater inclusivity in VFX

DNEG is committed to fostering an inclusive VFX industry that is open to everyone. That’s why we run an extensive outreach programme to engage schools, colleges and universities, to create awareness and inspire the next generation of VFX artists.

Each year, our Greenlight programme  gives recent graduates and trainees an exciting opportunity to enter the VFX profession. This flagship programme gives candidates, from a wide range of backgrounds, an opportunity to work with some of the world’s leading VFX artists, contribute to shows, gain hands-on experience and receive mentoring. The next Greenlight programme will focus on Creature FX and will run in Vancouver this fall – for more information on this click here.

We also support our people to participate in a range of activities designed to increase diversity. We’re proud to support our many employees who are part of industry-wide inclusivity initiatives, including programmes like Access VFX in the UK, which seeks to increase diversity, awareness and opportunity in creative industries and LCGBT, a networking group in Montreal that brings together people from the LGBTQ+ communities who work in VFX.

The Next Generation

In conclusion, and as an example of our progress as an industry, Zoe spoke about how outreach programmes like DNEG’s are helping to inspire girls to pursue STEM careers – for many, the first step towards a career in VFX.

“I recently attended an event at Science World promoting STEM careers,” she said. “I was impressed that the girl to boy ratio was about 50:50. So it’s happening among younger generations. We are starting to see the effects of these panels and the work that organisations such as Women in Animation (WIA) are having. But we need to keep up the effort.”

“I’d love to come to SIGGRAPH in 10 years time and for these types of panels not to be needed. In the meantime, we will continue to work to make careers in VFX available for everyone. Companies like DNEG and external organisations such as SIGGRAPH, SPARKGC and WIA, are putting a lot of energy into increasing diversity and inclusion, and I hope this continues.”

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