Yasmin Abdi, Real Creative Lives

Embracing our differences is important. Creatives have always understood the power that diversity and inclusion bring not just to art, but the world, and that sentiment will only continue to grow as the business world catches up. It goes beyond doing “the right thing” — including people of different backgrounds is an essential ingredient in every aspect of life.

A diverse workforce benefits everyone, especially creative teams. Check out how businesses can foster innovation by bringing in new ideas from people from all walks of life -and even close up massive gaps in the marketplace.

Diversity in Creative Teams

Diversity is among the most crucial ingredient in creative thinking. Teams who work in an inclusive environment — that is, teams with a fairly heterogeneous mixture of sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, culture, and educational background — tend to produce better results.

In creative teams, the general rule is that more ideas = better momentum. Having a diverse team is one of the best ways to boost creativity since the creative process thrives on stimulation and building off of new ideas. Compared with a team who shares the same background, a team of diverse talent will naturally come up with a wider range of thoughts and suggestions. It puts more tools in the toolbox, so to speak.

An Inclusive Workplace Boosts Business Performance

As several recent studies have proven, an inclusive workforce boosts employee engagement and helps the bottom line.

This is no surprise. Talent management works best in an inclusive culture where people can be their authentic selves and contribute new ideas. A broad range of experiences and backgrounds translates to a direct competitive advantage.

The modern world is one where creativity is prized. Many modern tech giants are partly responsible for blazing this trail — their policies toward independent and creative thought provide a stark contrast to the workplace of yesteryear. Diversity is a key element of creativity, though, and most workplaces still need to work on an inclusion strategy.

A culture of inclusion and a diverse workplace start with diversity policies. Education and workshops are a great starting point for establishing a common ground of understanding.

TONL: Identifying A Gap in the Status Quo

CreativeLive instructors Karen Okonkwo and Joshua Kissi

The lack of diversity in many sectors is a gaping hole in the market. Several entrepreneurs are capitalizing on this. One of our favorite examples is TONL, a company that is turning stock photography into an interesting thing by finally making it more than a woman laughing while eating salad.

TONL is disrupting the traditional homogeneity of stock photography in the business world by including people of diverse backgrounds from all over, seeking to reduce unconscious bias, and letting everyone feel like they’re a part of the big picture. No pun intended.

Creating Diversity in Stock Photography

Can photographers help make the world a better place? Karen Okonkwo and Joshua Kissi share thier story of creating & distributing images of diversity around the world. #TONL

Posted by CreativeLive on Friday, February 15, 2019

The company, founded by CreativeLive instructors Karen Okonkwo and Joshua Kissi, prioritizes storytelling and adding value to content through human photos and in doing so, they are working to remove prejudice toward not just black people, but all people of color.

A Nigerian-American, Okonkwo owns several online business and event planning companies, but in 2013, she noticed it was difficult to display diversity on her blog with the resources available online. A true entrepreneur, she saw a gap in the market waiting to be filled. She teamed up with Joshua Kissi, a Ghanaian-American who shares Okonkwo’s love for entrepreneurship and is the co-founder of the online visual company Street Etiquette. As they explain on the CreativeLive podcast, they’re working on more diverse representation on the web. You can, too, by taking their class on diversity in stock photography or by watching Okonkwo and Kissi’s keynote at CreativeLive’s 2018 Photo Week.


Learn how to capture the uniqueness in everyone with TONL co-founder Joshua Kissi. Learn More.


Humans of New York Student Feature

Another fantastic creator from our CreativeLive family, Paul Ninson, was recently featured on the popular social media account, Humans of New York, which is keen on telling stories from all walks of life. Ninson hails from Ghana and after becoming a father at a young age, tirelessly pursued his passion for photography and documentary work.

After meeting Humans of New York’s Brandon Stanton, Paul was able to connect with Chase Jarvis, founder of CreativeLive, who in addition to mentoring Paul, gave him access to CreativeLive’s video library.

Paul’s career -and online presence- has since taken off as he’s photographed landscapes, members of African tribes, and many people from various cultures. He’s passionate about his commitment to improving the world through his art and now has a huge audience ready to take the journey around the globe with him. Ninson, who never forgets that he started his career with just a dream, gives a large percentage of his proceeds to the subjects of his photography.

Ninson is just one of many artists that Chase Jarvis has been drawn to. Jarvis loves to hear the story behind the art and even started his own series, 30 Days of Genius, where he sits down one-on-one with the biggest entrepreneurs in art, culture, and business. You can listen in on the conversation here.

Learn More

A world where everything is the same sounds… well, terrible. At CreativeLive, we understand that we are made stronger by what makes us different. Diversity is all around us and it’s not to be ignored, so we’re helping to build and promote a vast creative culture that fosters innovative thinking, amazing art, and groundbreaking entrepreneurialism. Learn more about the Real Creative Lives of our diverse community.