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WarnerMedia has released its 2020-21 equity and inclusion report, which updates the company’s demographic data and offers a variety of snapshots of the diverse (in multiple senses of the word) content across the vast media company.
“I firmly believe that talent is distributed equally in the world we live in today, but opportunity is not always evenly distributed,” chief inclusion officer and executive vp of communications Christy Haubegger said in a statement. “That is why we have an equity and inclusion strategy that has been put into place to open those opportunities – across our workforce, our content, our pipeline programs and the work we do within our communities. It is not about random acts of diversity. It’s about ongoing, measured and systemic change if we are going to achieve true equity for everyone.”
Titled The Power of Stories, the report reveals that the employee gender breakdown has remained relatively consistent since the company’s inaugural inclusion report in 2019. The 30,000-person global WarnerMedia workforce is 54 percent male and 46 percent female, with that same ratio appearing at the senior leadership level. Future reports will seek to capture gender identity outside the binary, Haubegger noted.
Among U.S. employees, 58 percent are white, with 39 percent comprising people of the global majority (3 percent declined to state their race or ethnicity). That disparity grows when moving up the leadership chain: 62 percent of managers are white, as are 72 percent of WarnerMedia’s senior leadership (defined as vice president and above).
WarnerMedia is attempting to narrow the gap in part through programs such as WarnerMedia Fellows (for senior vps of color) and HBCU alumni recruitment. As a sign of progress, the company points to the fact that the share of Asian and Black employees hired or promoted to senior leadership (14 percent and 12 percent, respectively) is greater than their current representation at that level (10 percent and 7 percent, respectively). Overall, half of WarnerMedia’s U.S. hires and promotions are white.
The company says that as part of its ongoing commitment to measuring progress, the leadership team’s weekly operational reports include workforce diversity numbers alongside other business metrics. The report also acknowledges that WarnerMedia’s E&I plan of action includes pay equity goals, internal talent development and company training and education. The latter included the HR Intensive on Race, the Path to Equity for business units and the Equity Mindset for Creative Leaders, all multi-week programs launched in 2020.
In terms of content, women represent about a third or less of people on-screen and behind the camera across WarnerMedia’s movies and U.S. scripted series, while white people held about 71 percent of those jobs. Much more gender diversity is seen in animation (as was discussed in a recent episode of THR‘s Hollywood Remixed podcast). Fifty-two percent of lead characters being developed at Warner Bros. Animation are female, as are 54% at Cartoon Network. Among 29 platforms offering animated content, Insider found that Cartoon Network also has included the most LGBTQ+ characters and series featuring such characters (96 and 19, respectively).
To further diversify its content and content creators, WarnerMedia touts in its report the plethora of talent pipeline programs in its portfolio, now housed under WarnerMedia Access, including programs for writers, directors, showrunners, unscripted producers, animators, below-the-line crew and production assistants. The company is also developing strategies to tap into historically excluded local talent in countries outside the U.S., starting with Access Canada, formed in September 2020. “Access Canada is a blueprint for how we’ll roll out our global program. It’s not a one-size-fits-all system,” said senior vp of pipeline programs Karen Horne. “In Canada, one of the communities we’re working with is the Indigenous community to ensure that people have the access and training to control how their stories are told and how they’re depicted on-screen.”
And to support diversity among vendors and suppliers, WarnerMedia has compiled The Red Book directory. Businesses run by women, people of the global majority and members of the LGBTQ+ community can apply to be certified here.
The WarnerMedia report also touted its community participation over the past year, one that was partially defined by the global COVID-19 pandemic, a mainstreaming of the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, a pivotal presidential election and an awakening about anti-Asian violence and hate. The report noted that the company has pledged $15 million to fight racial inequity – specific disbursements were not disclosed – and launched a $100 million fund for U.S. crews that were affected by pandemic-necessitated production shutdowns. WarnerMedia also matched $2.6 million in employee donations with $2.3 million from the company coffers to support disaster relief and various nonprofits worldwide. And according to the report, the 100-plus PSAs it created – featuring WarnerMedia talent – was worth more than $100 million in creative resources and in-kind ad placements, delivering more than 1 billion earned impressions and 100 million views.
“Stories that deeply resonate can change how a person contextualizes the world,” WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar said in a statement. “We are a missionary team of nearly 30,000 team members… inspired, passionate and, of course, with the potential to do far more. And that is a good thing, given there is so much more to do. These were important steps toward making WarnerMedia more equitable and inclusive. And yet we all acknowledge that the bulk of the work is still in front of us.”
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