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Studies show diversity = money

March 17, 2015

Diversity = money. It’s a pretty simple equation according to a fascinating story by Austin Siegemund-Broka on diversity in the entertainment industry in The Hollywood Reporter.

“Hollywood’s racial and gender diversity is increasing,” writes Siegemund-Broka. “’But it’s not increasing quickly enough,’ says Darnell Hunt, lead author of the second annual Hollywood Diversity Report by UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies. ‘Hollywood is not progressing at the same rate as America is diversifying,’ says Hunt, the center’s director and a sociology professor. The U.S. population is about 40 percent minority and slightly more than half female, but, in news to no one, women and minorities are represented onscreen and behind the camera in drastically lesser proportions, the study indicates.

“The problem isn’t audiences: During the years the study surveys—2012 and 2013—viewers preferred films and television shows with moderately diverse casts, according to Nielsen ratings and box-office reports. ‘Audiences, regardless of their race, are clamoring for more diverse content,’ says co-author Ana-Christina Ramon.”

And while lack of diversity in television and film is changing with the launch of some very successful prime-time comedies like “Jane the Virgin,” “Fresh off the Boat” and “Blackish,” the study blames the lack of diversity on agencies, guilds, studios and networks—”an industry culture that routinely devalues the talent of minorities and women.”

Click here to read more.

Why is this important?

Because comparisons between corporate leadership and the entertainment industry apply. Both stand to reap significant benefits from increasing the representation of women and people of color—by being more diverse and inclusive—and there’s data to back it up. Studies show a strong correlation between increased numbers of women and people of color in senior leadership correlates to better growth, innovation, and bottom-line returns.

Studies also show that lack of diversity among the executive ranks of TV networks and movie studios (96 percent white and 71 percent male) is staggering. And it’s even more pronounced in the major and mini-major film studios (94 percent white and 100 percent male!).

So why does Hollywood have such a huge blind spot with regard to diversity?

There are many reasons but unconscious bias plays a significant role. I mean, these executives want to make money and they see all the studies that show the diversity of their audience, right?

But the fact is all humans possess unconscious bias. It’s an automatic response that has evolved in us as a way to respond to danger. This of course doesn’t make it right. Especially since it’s continually perpetuated by conformity and socialization by the dominant culture. Bias is simply the way that we all are programmed to keep those who look like us close to us.

This makes sense (sort of), but it doesn’t work.

And more importantly to organizations, biased (conscious or not), non-diverse, and non-inclusive leadership is bad for business.

Combating unconscious bias is important to nearly every organization we work with because diversity at every level equals better bottom-line results.

So the question is: How inclusive are you? Take our quiz to find out.



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