Best Practice Guidance

This is a list of questions to consider at each stage of the creative process with the aim of encouraging more representative content. Different sections are specifically built for different industry roles, including editors, journalists, influencers, brand ambassadors, stylists, casting directors, art directors, picture editors, PRs and talent representatives. This list was compiled by a committee of experts representing each group it aims to lift.

We don’t want this tool to perpetuate the cycle of tokenism or for it to become an exercise in box-ticking to fulfil the ‘diversity ticket’, but for it to spark a change at every level and amplify the voices of the under-represented. There are no restrictions for the use or distribution of this document. We suggest using it in conjunction with the inclusion rider available on this site.

Editors:

  • If you are commissioning a story, have you considered a writer and/or photographer from an under represented group?
  • Do you have a wide variety of BAME experts and writers to call upon for interviews and quotes? And members of the LGBTQ+ communities, disabled individuals?
  • Do you work with casting agencies that have multiple people from under-represented groups in their books?
  • HOW are you representing the under-represented? Are you sensitive to the needs of the under-represented within your content? It’s important to consider the diversity of people within every under-represented group – there can be no ‘one size fits all’ approach to handling issues of race, sexuality, gender identity or disability. Having professional agency contacts will allow for sensitive handling of variations within categories.
  • Ensure the correct use of pronouns – it’s respectful to ask rather than assume.
  • Do you ensure equal pay for all individuals involved?

Journalists, influencers, talent & brand ambassadors:

  • If you yourself are taking part in a campaign/feature alongside other individuals, are people of colour; disabled people; people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Queer or non-binary represented? Consider using an inclusion rider.
  • Do you have a network of black, BAME, BIPOC experts to call upon for interviews, quotes and collaborations? And members of the LGBTQ+ community? And disabled individuals? And a range of ages?
  • If you are using case studies in a story, are you representing black people, people of colour; people with disabilities; people who identify as Lesbian, Gay Bi, Trans, Queer or non-binary? Is there any opportunity to include people of different ages and body shapes?
  • If you are writing about hair, skin and make-up are you considering how your message applies or could apply to people of colour? Perhaps your story is one-type specific, but if you are covering different skin ‘types’ are you also covering different ‘tones’? For example, if you’re writing about suncare are you aware of the differences in requirements through the tonal spectrum? Are you thinking about a foundation’s shade varieties? Are you thinking about different natural textures and curl patterns in hair?
  • Are you sensitive to the specific needs of the under-represented within your content? For example, if you are writing about case studies who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Queer or non-binary, what can you do to normalize sexuality and gender issues? There is a feeling within the LGBTQ+ communities that a lot of the existing narratives are clichéd – why is someone’s sexuality or their coming out always featured and never as a side line to another interesting fact about them? Can you explore different facets of their story? And are you talking to people from all these communities who range in age?
  • When you are writing about brands and products, is cultural appropriation at play? For example, identifying a ‘trend’ which is actually a time-honoured tradition for another culture, and not acknowledging that culture or group. 
  • When you are writing about brands and products, is there a history of offensive remarks or behaviour from professionals associated with the brand? One example might be using cultural appropriation to sell products.
  • Avoid the use of cis-gendered, normative and heterocentric terms where they are not needed.
  • Ensure the correct use of pronouns – it’s respectful to ask rather than assume.
  • When working with someone who is disabled, do not use the terms ‘wheelchair bound’ or ‘in a wheelchair’ – in person or in content. Use the term ‘wheelchair user’.  Establish whether they would like to be described as disabled, or as having a disability.

Stylists, casting directors, art directors, photographers, photo editors, journalists and editors:

  • If you are illustrating a story with stock and/or celebrity imagery, are you representing black people; people of colour; disabled people; people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Queer or non-binary? And people of different body shapes and ages? There’s a very real issue of invisibility for those over the age of 50.
  • If you are shooting a story, are you representing black people; people of colour; people with disabilities; people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Queer or non-binary? And people of different body shapes and ages?
  • Do you work with casting agencies that have multiple people from under-represented groups on their books? Having professional agency contacts will allow for sensitive handling of variations within categories.
  • When working with someone who is disabled / has a disability do not use the terms ‘wheelchair bound’ or ‘in a wheelchair’ – in person or in content. Use the term ‘wheelchair user’.  Address a person accompanied by a carer or assistant directly. Refer to the person by name. Establish whether they would like to be described as disabled, or as having a disability.
  • Are you catering to the different needs of individuals at shoots and interviews? For example, is your building accessible? Do you guarantee access to disabled toilets? Is appropriate transport included? Consider within this that not all disabilities are visible.
  • Are your images or campaigns using cultural appropriation?
  • The likeness of the subject should not be altered in post-production – for example, skin lightening, disguising a disability, altering body shapes.
  • If you are shooting a story, consider having gender-neutral toilets on site (temporary signs can be used at events or rented spaces).
  • Ensure the correct use of pronouns – it’s respectful to ask rather than assume.

PRs and talent representatives:

  • When negotiating on your talent/brand’s behalf, consider who else will be featured alongside. Being part of a group feature or campaign that doesn’t represent under-represented communities will reflect badly on your brand/talent. Consider using an inclusion rider on your brand/talent’s behalf.
  • PRs: are your events and trips catering to a representative guestlist?
  • Avoid gendered dress codes at events.
  • Ensure the correct use of pronouns – it’s respectful to ask rather than assume.
  • When identifying Key Opinion Leaders to represent a brand, are you working with agencies to source talent, or researching outside of typical avenues?
  • Are your campaigns using cultural appropriation at any juncture?
  • Have you thoroughly researched said talent to ensure they are truly representative of the brand/publication and share the same beliefs and values?
  • Are you working with companies that employ the under-represented, for example in event catering?
  • Are you catering to the different needs of individuals at trips and events? For example, is your event accessible, do you guarantee access to disabled toilets, is appropriate transport included? Consider within this that not all disabilities are visible. Similarly, are you offering appropriate support to talent, for example covering the additional travel expenses of disabled guests.

Written in consultation with:

Anita Bhagwandas, Beauty Director at Large of Glamour UK

Dija Ayodele, Founder of The Black Skin Directory

Alice Hainsworth, Stonewall Bi Role Model

Millie Kendall MBE, CEO of The British Beauty Council

Sarah Rose Gregory, Co-Editor of About Time News

Karen Gurney, The Sex Doctor

Michelle Ross, Co-Founder of CliniQ

@Susiebluesyy, Founder of Lemon-Aid Life

Nisha Smith, Beauty PR

Hollie-Anne Brooks, Freelance Journalist and Disability Rights Campaigner