During his recent testimony on the state of the television and video marketplace before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, NCTA’s President and CEO, Michael Powell proffered, “we are awash with content of every genre, to satisfy every conceivable preference. And every company is grappling with the disorienting and fast changes that are twisting with creative destruction.”
This ‘creative destruction’ Michael referenced also reflects the seismic shifts taking place across our industry and particularly around diversity, equity and inclusion. According to the Society of Human Resources Managers (SHRM), for the first time in history, five generations are working side by side, each with different leadership traits, communication styles, career goals and different world views. The diversity of the workforce as it relates to race, ethnicity, gender, ability, sexual preference continues to transform exponentially, and we are only at the tipping point.
It is apparent that a reset is taking place in many industries as it relates to diversity and inclusion. In our industry, which broadly includes media and entertainment, we are deeply entrenched in that reset. Beyond workforce issues, the creation and distribution of content, the ‘creative destruction’ now occurring presents us with an opportunity for a new way of thinking and a new way of moving forward.
Companies within our industry are now focused on a deeper dive and the reset that is occurring is impacting programming content, storytelling, targeted marketing, advertising, as well as the development of more inclusive products. In fact, devices like the Xbox Adaptive Controller, specific controller designed for individuals with disabilities, were developed as a result of new and innovative thinking. Comcast has been a leader in working to provide solutions for its customers, featuring its leading-edge XFINITY® solutions, which launched the first talking program guide in the cable industry. Voice control, accessible XFINITY® mobile apps and improved access to closed captioning are among a plethora of many other solutions.
On the programming and content curation side of the business, USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and Times Up launched the 4% Challenge to help raise the bar above a meager 4% of films that are being directed by women, particularly women of color. This initiative was supercharged when Disney’s CEO, Bob Iger, tweeted “I’m proud to say 40% of Disney Studios’ upcoming movie slate is being directed by women and we are striving for more!”
One of the main sparks that ignited the call for a reset were the results of the UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report, produced by UCLA’s College Division of Social Science. The annual report was launched earlier this year and highlighted that while there was an increase in films being directed by women, they remained largely underrepresented across the broad embrace of television and film. Through this seminal research, we have uncovered how important diagnosing critical diversity issues have become and in turn, being able to seize the opportunity to address disparities.
As our industry prepares to unveil its biennial diversity and inclusion study during Diversity Week in New York this fall, we anticipate a report card which demonstrates that more women and executives of color continue to ascend to top leadership roles in their companies. It is these leaders, we believe, who will have the most profound impact on the workforce makeup of our companies, the products and services that are developed and brought to the marketplace, the storylines that are greenlit, produced and make it to the screen, and the faces that are hired both in front of and behind the camera. Most importantly, we cannot forget that consumers have the power; they have their fingers on the reset button and will continue to drive conversations around diversity, equity and inclusion.