Endeavor CEO Unveils Inclusion Plan: $5M Donation, Disclose Diversity Numbers, Update Hiring Policy (Exclusive)

Co-CEO of William Morris Endeavor Ari Emanuel -Getty-H 2019
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Endeavor, led by CEO Ari Emanuel, had a heavily leveraged strategy which led to an IPO plan that was scrapped last September. 

A memo from Ari Emanuel revealed that WME and Endeavor Content, working with Michael B. Jordan and Color of Change's new initiative #ChangeHollywood, would implement more than 30 actions in an effort to support Black voices and storytellers, along with diversifying its own ranks.

WME and Endeavor Content are implementing a series of more than 30 actions based on the launch of a new initiative led by Michael B. Jordan and Color of Change, called #ChangeHollywood.

The initiative provides a roadmap of actions that can be taken by studios, production companies and agencies to invest in anti-racist content and authentic Black stories.

On Thursday, when #ChangeHollywood was announced, Endeavor's Ari Emanuel sent out a memo to staff at both WME and Endeavor Content listing the specific actions that the company, which counts Jordan among its clients, would be taking. This includes committing $5 million over the next three years toward community programs and inclusion initiatives; partnering with select colleges to recruit students from underrepresented backgrounds; disclosing the company's diversity numbers; providing an inclusion rider template to all agents and clients; hiring independent security for the company's events; investing in Black creative-led film and TV projects; and training script readers and assistants to flag content that contains implicit and harmful bias.

"This is by no means an exhaustive list of the work ahead of us, but hopefully a step toward long-term change," wrote Emanuel. "Each of us will be held accountable for these commitments, and I ask for your support in keeping our pledge."

The new action list comes on the heels of WME's other recent efforts toward inclusion, including the Summer Series launched by Endeavor Impact, the philanthropic arm of Endeavor, which is a virtual program that aims to provide access to students who may not have a direct path into the entertainment industry.

"Hollywood will not change its long legacy of racism on its own, but with partners like WME and Endeavor Content willing to lead the industry, we will create a roadmap to achieve racial justice,"  said Rashid Shabazz, chief storytelling and marketing officer at Color of Change. "This collaboration between actors, producers and racial justice advocates will provide the recommendations, analysis and action needed for the industry to invest in anti-racist content, invest in Black talent, and reinvest police funds to support Black communities."

Read Ari Emanuel's memo to the staff below:

As we continue our work in addressing racial equity within our companies and our industry more broadly, I’m happy to share we are aligning our efforts with those of Endeavor Foundation grantee Color of Change and client MICHAEL B. JORDAN to create a roadmap for change in Hollywood. Working alongside both of these incredible leaders in racial justice will enable us to accelerate our work and hopefully encourage other companies to do the same.

Below are some of our key commitments to the #ChangeHollywood initiative, which we will be enacting within the next year:

Investing in Anti-Racist Content & Authentic Black Stories

Resources & Processes

-Compile and distribute resources for clients, content creators, executives and partners including:
*Lists of cultural consultants and issue experts to help guide and inform authentic portrayals of Black people and issues affecting Black people
*Database of Black crew, vendors and suppliers
*Materials that provide guidance and research to help prevent harmful portrayals of Black communities, especially when it comes to content related to crime, law and race

- Develop a system for script readers/Assistants at WME and Endeavor Content to flag content that contains implicit and harmful bias during the script coverage and development process and elevate accordingly


- Host an annual summit with agents, executives, clients and partners to discuss anti-racism in film, television and digital content 

Content Creation at Endeavor Content

- Develop a set of anti-racist values for greenlighting Endeavor Content projects, and increase investment in diverse and specifically Black creative-led film, TV, non-scripted, music and audio content

- Conduct an independent racial justice audit of a set of representative Endeavor Content projects to identify both problematic and promising patterns of representation and storytelling, and provide actionable recommendations for improving content development with respect to racial justice

Investing in Black Talent & Careers


- Provide 100 hours of programming for individuals with limited access to our industry to learn from our executives, clients and partners about entering and succeeding in sports, entertainment and fashion, scaling our programs like Endeavor 101, Summer Series and more
- Launch a digital marketing campaign to recruit students from underrepresented backgrounds to apply for accessible internships and entry-level roles
Partner with select colleges and universities (inclusive of Historical Black Colleges and Universities) and external organizations to recruit high-potential college students and recent graduates

Hiring & Retention

- Eliminate patronage hiring and commit to standardized rubrics for open positions to reduce and ultimately eliminate the opportunity for bias in hiring processes
- De-emphasize college requirements for entry-level positions, and, where appropriate, consider equivalent life experience

- Audit all new job descriptions for unintentional bias
- Increase the minimum starting hourly rate for Assistants to $18/hour with an additional $2/hour ($20/hour rate), effective upon the first anniversary of their hire, to support a more diverse pool of candidates 

Training & Advancement

- Every senior leader and new hire at WME and Endeavor Content will complete anti-bias training
- On the anniversary of #BlackoutTuesday, WME and Endeavor Content will host a series of anti-racist workshops and working group sessions
- Establish a mid-level career program to invest in high-potential employees from underrepresented backgrounds 
- Provide dedicated budget for employees from underrepresented backgrounds to attend external professional leadership and development programs

Culture & Reporting

- Disclose diversity numbers and provide updates as part of an annual Impact and Inclusion report
- Conduct a global “Cultural Pulse Check” audit to receive feedback directly from employees, with results independently analyzed and used to create the most inclusive environment possible moving forward
- Continue to ensure that cultivating a more diverse and inclusive workplace is part of performance evaluations for all employees and leaders

Representation On Set and Below-the-Line

- Provide an updated Inclusion Rider template to all agents and interested clients, as well as open-source tools for production company clients and partners to implement and track the Inclusion Rider principles on productions
- Endeavor Content will continue to implement the Inclusion Rider principles on productions for which it controls hiring, and include supporting language in all contracts and production handbooks

Investing in Black Communities


- Establish a company-wide working group to map, state by state, the areas of our businesses that require interaction with police departments
* Through these findings, we will develop an advocacy plan to join the entertainment industry in supporting measures for civilian agencies to manage entertainment needs around production, permitting, traffic coordination, etc
- In line with our community partners and Endeavor Foundation grantees, we will continue to advocate for local governments to shift investment in police and prisons to investment in communities of color, in addition to adopting transformative changes in the criminal justice system
- Develop an internal task force to collaborate across the industry on commitments that accelerate investment in Black content, careers and communities

Supporting Black Owned Businesses

- Implement a corporate Supplier Diversity Initiative with set targets and measurements

Commitment to Communities

- Via the Endeavor network, commit $5,000,000 over the next three years toward programs and community initiatives that elevate, support and empower communities of color, starting with a $550,000 Endeavor Foundation grant round to support Color of Change, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Innocence Project, Know Your Rights Camp and the Equal Justice Initiative
- Update the Endeavor Foundation’s grantmaking framework to prioritize organizations run and governed by people of color, particularly when the organization’s mission serves predominantly communities of color

Security & Consultants

- Hire independent security for WME and Endeavor Content events in all instances where possible
- At Endeavor Content, hire pre-vetted civilian consultants for content involving the criminal justice system, and provide resources for partner companies and clients to do the same

Workforce Development Programs

- Implement workforce development programs that increase opportunities for Black people to enter the industry in below-the-line roles
* Programs will include technical training, industry education, professional development and placement assistance
* Endeavor Content has committed to hiring graduates of these programs on each LA-based production, and we will also seek to facilitate placement on projects with WME clients

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the work ahead of us, but hopefully a step toward long-term change. Each of us will be held accountable for these commitments, and I ask for your support in keeping our pledge. You will be hearing more details from your business leaders in the coming weeks about how these will be implemented in your respective companies.