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Speaking at a Women in Leadership keynote at the international television market Mipcom, Newen CEO Bibiane Godfroid said the group’s commitment to diversity was “total, both in front of and behind the camera.” Noting that 63 percent of Newen managers are female, Godfroid said the strength of the company “lies in the diversity and parity of its workforce.” And she added: “Newen’s goal is to reflect French society. At the moment we are far away from that.”
The main goal of the new committee will be to coordinate initiatives across Newen to “promote equity, represent diversity and encourage creativity and innovation.” The company said it would soon announce the makeup of the committee itself.
Godfroid said the company will look at how to best promote social diversity and fight all forms of discrimination and stereotypes, including those connected to ethnicity, disability, gender equality and regional origin. “Rural inclusion, for example, is very important to us,” she noted, “we have to be close to everyone.” Part of the company’s inclusion efforts will be to boost initiatives that help young screenwriters, directors, actors, and other professions from different backgrounds to access Newen’s training and employment programs. In March, Newen France set up such a “Talent Detection” program in Marseille.
A subsidiary of French commercial TV giant TF1 group, Newen is one of Europe’s leading production companies, with subsidiaries across the region – including Ringside Studios in the U.K., Flare Film in Germany and iZen in Spain – as well as a North American division in the form of Canada’s Reel One.
Speaking on the same MIPCOM keynote panel, Bouchra Rejani, founder and CEO of French production company Wemake, said the push for better representation on French TV “has been a long fight” made harder by French law, which outlaws measuring national populations by ethnic origin.
“We can’t measure anything!” said an exasperated Rejani, who noted that pressure from the United States, as well as diversity demands coming from the global streamers, has been key in improving diversity in the French industry.
She said it was now up to the next generation of television executives “to do what we have been incapable of doing” and achieve true inclusivity.
Alex Mahon, CEO of U.K. network Channel 4, said on Monday that broadcasters needed to provide “a route into the industry” for those from marginalized groups. While global streaming platforms have pushed for more on- and off-screen diversity, “streamers don’t work with new talent, they work with established talent,” Mahon noted, leaving to broadcasters the task of reaching out to under-represented groups.
As examples of the way forward, she pointed to Channel 4 initiatives, including the launch of a menopause policy and pregnancy loss policy, to help female employees, the channel’s “Black to Front” day, in which all Channel 4 programs are fronted by Black presenters and produced by Black crew, and the network’s coverage of the Paralympics, which featured 70 percent disabled presenters and many disabled crew members.
The issues of diversity and inclusion are front and center at MIPCOM, which kicked off on Monday and runs through Thursday in Cannes. It was also a focus at The Hollywood Reporter‘s Women in International Entertainment Power Lunch, hosted together with A&E Network at MIPCOM on Monday, which celebrated the top female executive talent in television from around the world.
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