The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida
“Creative work is largely intellectual and sedentary; thus Creative Class people seek to recharge through physical activity.”
The Creative Class refers to engineers, writers, actors, and architects and it also includes professions such as lawyers, accountants, and managers. In fact, the Creative Class includes all professions that use creativity to solve problems. Richard Florida’s book is about the rise of this class and also about creativity’s role in modern day economic development.
Florida reveals how 30 percent of America’s belongs to the Creative Class. Members of the Creative Class earn well, making twice as much as those working in manufacturing or service industries. But there is a lot more about the Creative Class than just about more money.
For instance, the Creative Class hates conforming to societal norms and are highly individualistic in attitude. They are very particular about diversity, so much so that even heterosexual members of this class ask an employer about benefits for same-sex partners – just to test the employer’s attitude towards homosexuality!
They are pretty much liberal to an extreme and share a bohemian mindset. For them, diversity is welcome, rather than something to be tolerated. And yet, they are a very hardworking bunch, very particular about their goals and achieving objectives. So, they are essentially like the hippies of the 1970’s, but with an excellent work attitude – which makes them very unique indeed.
The influence of the Creative Class is all around us – we see this in the changes in employer’s attitudes toward racial, cultural and sexual diversity, as well as towards the health of the employees. It may be argued that the Creative Class has single-handedly made the workplace so much better for everyone.
What has changed is that employees today expect to be treated as individuals, want flexible work schedules and hate dress codes of any sort. IBM, for instance, used to have a very strict dress code till the 1990s – but because of the influence of the Creative Class, that has been done away with.
The Creative Class expects more from an employer than just to be paid well. Since they are so well qualified and so good at what they do, they often get away with it as well. One of the key things that mark this class as different is the importance given to health.
Florida talks about how health-club memberships have grown exponentially in the United States, as well as the demand for adventure sports, such as skiing, scuba diving, surfing and so on, and attributes this to the growth of the Creative Class. Today, people are pursuing a more creative, active lifestyle. There has been a growth in the number of people taking to running, biking, and swimming as well.
Indeed, one might argue that Barack Obama’s election as the President of the United States can be attributed largely to the growth of the Creative Class. It would be laughable to think that Obama would stand a chance in the 1950’s or 1960’s, or even the 1980’s, when professionals and business executives were mostly buttoned-down corporate conformists and there wasn’t really any acceptance of diversity as we have today.
According to Florida, growing Creative Capital requires the harnessing of the 3T’s: technology, talent, and tolerance. As he says, “The best cities, like the best companies, do many things well, offering something for everybody.”
The Silicon Valley in California has this more than any part of the world, and hence it is perhaps the Mecca of the Creative Class, and because of that, the richest region in the world as well.
Florida has written a fascinating book, and a glowing tribute to the people who are making our world such a better place for everyone.