TV Director Diversity Increases, But Some Studios Lag, Says DGA Report

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Fox is doing well, while Netflix is still behind when it comes to diversity in directing slots.

Ethnic and gender diversity among episodic TV directors showed upticks of 3 to 4 percentage points, a new DGA study shows, but over three-quarters of the nearly 4,500 scripted episodes analyzed were directed by Caucasians and a similar proportion by men. Sixty-two percent were directed by white men, a five-point decrease from last year.

Although the numbers represent continuing progress in recent years, the track record at some studios suggests much less commitment or success at achieving diversity. The newest company, Netflix, has the most old-fashioned record, with only 20.5 percent of its 88 episodes shot by women or minorities. Fox, at 45 percent, achieved more than twice as much diversity.

Overall, a record 21 percent of episodes in the 2016-17 season were helmed by women and 22 percent, also a record, by minorities. More specifically, white men and women directed 78 percent of episodes, African-Americans 13 percent, Asian-Americans 5 percent and Latinos 4 percent.

“While this report, and our recent report on hiring of first-time TV directors, reflect some progress overall, there are stark disparities among the major studios that raise questions about how committed to inclusion some employers really are,” said DGA president Thomas Schlamme. “We want to make sure that every talented individual has an equal shot, and a path forward. But for that to happen, employers must expand their hiring processes to discover the world of capable directors hiding in plain sight. Frankly, it’s hard to understand why they’re not doing more. Even if all the right reasons are not enough for them, they should at least be motivated by the bottom line — inclusion just makes good business sense.”

Of the top 10 studios, Fox, CBS, NBC Universal and Amazon held the top four spots in the hiring of diverse directors, with Fox leading the way overall and in the hiring of minority helmers. Amazon led in the hiring of women directors, but took the second to last spot in the hiring of minority helmers.

In the middle were Disney/ABC, Warner Bros. and HBO. While HBO was strong in the hiring of women directors, the studio was also in the bottom third in the hiring of minority helmers.

Sony and Viacom held the eighth and ninth spots, while Netflix hired the lowest percentage of diverse directors.