UTA Chief Rallies Staff to Improve Gender Equality and Diversity at Agency
In his annual holiday memo to the agency, Jeremy Zimmer committed to a “process of achieving gender equality” in the company’s leadership.
The day after The New Yorker published its bombshell Oct. 10 report accusing Harvey Weinstein of multiple sexual assaults, UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer issued a firm statement to the agency’s employees condemning the alleged behavior and reinforcing UTA’s values of inclusiveness and empowerment, as well as its zero-tolerance policy toward workplace harassment. He again addressed the Weinstein revelations, as well as the larger cultural reckoning they wrought, in his annual year-end memo to the agency.
“What kind of world are my girls growing up in?” he wrote in the email sent Wednesday to UTA’s nearly 1,000 employees worldwide. “The horror of Harvey and other creeps of his ilk will leave a scar, but will also build a muscle. The muscle will help eliminate some of the ideas that have deluded men, women and organizations.”
Zimmer shared that some of UTA’s clients have asked the agency to take the “50-50 by 2020” gender parity pledge, as ICM Partners and CAA have done. “Initially I was concerned about committing to a goal without a clear-cut plan of how to achieve it,” he acknowledged. “As a result of deeper conversations we have decided to commit to a process of achieving gender equality in leadership at UTA.”
The commitment is not necessarily 50-50 representation, a source tells THR, but Zimmer announced the formation of a new operational group that would better reflect the diversity of the agency’s employees and clientele, and said that UTA would meet with a group of concerned clients early in the new year to help crystallize specific plans of action.
Zimmer also reflected on the need for UTA to continue to push for inclusivity in its core business. “We need to immediately commit to demanding more opportunities for our female and diverse artists,” he wrote. “It’s not good enough to represent them; we must break down the walls with them, for them.”
UTA was one of the first companies in Hollywood to weigh in publicly on cultural and social issues that have rocked the country this year. In February, it canceled its pre-Oscar party and instead held a pro-immigration rally that raised more than $320,000 for the American Civil Liberties Union and the International Rescue Committee.
Read Zimmer’s full memo below.
It’s quiet in the Zimmer household and I’m reading the news and wondering how things have gotten so bad. How was the world become so divided and full of hate. Us vs Them, Rich vs Poor, Black vs White, Men vs Women, and The USA vs Everyone.
What kind of world are my girls growing up in? How is the dissonance of our times affecting their view of what they can expect of their schools, their workplace and their relationships? The horror of Harvey and other creeps of his ilk will leave a scar, but will also build a muscle. The muscle will help eliminate some of the ideas that have deluded men, women and organizations.
UTA has a strong and supportive culture, but it wasn’t always that way. We made bold moves to eradicate pernicious elements of our company and our culture that haunted us from our beginning. What seems bold in the moment becomes obvious in retrospect. That is certainly the case in our history, and also the case in most of history.
So how can we be bold today? Although we aren’t broken, in fact far from it, we are also far from perfect.
Recently we have been asked by some of our clients to commit to gender equality by 2020. Initially I was concerned about committing to a goal without a clear cut plan of how to achieve it. As a result of deeper conversations we have decided to commit to a process of achieving gender equality in leadership at UTA.
We will form a new operational group at UTA which will be more representative of our diverse organization and client body. We will develop a concrete plan focusing on short term steps and specific long-term goals. We will add additional support to our training and mentoring groups in order to significantly enhance the pipeline and process of developing leaders in the organization.
Early in 2018 we will meet with a group of concerned clients to discuss and exchange ideas and to work through concerns that we may not fully understand. Those meetings will be critical in helping us shape our plans as we go forward.
As I think this through, I must return to the fundamentals of our mission – to represent artists as effectively and powerfully as we can. This is at the heart of our culture.
We need to immediately commit to demanding more opportunities for our female and diverse artists. It’s not good enough to represent them, we must break down the walls with them, for them.
Ultimately the power of mainstream media to shape how we view the world will be an incredible tool for change. Therefore we must drive change inside our organization and throughout our industry.
What tools can we use to help power our female and diverse clients into mainstream opportunities? How can we coach the studios and networks into hiring the clients that we believe have the goods to make great stuff while making a difference? This is where UTA can make the greatest difference. If we believe then we can make the buyers believe. That has always been at the heart of our culture.
2017 happened, and we had an amazing year. We found our voice as a company and that voice has been embraced by ourselves and our greater community. Our clients have done incredible work and I am confident the coming awards season will recognize many of them. In Television, Movies, Art and Music we have continued to grow and expand our roster of talented clients.
We have added a great new capability in the speakers group, more depth in publishing and music, and across the board our support teams are excellent.
So let’s remember 2017 for the wonderful accomplishments of our clients and colleagues, the growth of our team and the awareness we’ve gained. Let’s use what we have discovered to power our continued growth as a great company, a fair company, a great place to work, and a place we are all proud to be a part of.
Have a restful holiday and prepare yourself for another great year as part of UTA.