Black women in entertainment industry more likely to face bias
New report from Hollywood Commission
OW Staff Writer | 10/15/2020, midnight
Women in the entertainment industry were about twice as likely as their male counterparts to experience biased or unfair behavior, with women of color reporting even higher rates, according to a report released by the Hollywood Commission chaired by Anita Hill.
The report—based on online responses from more than 9,600 people who worked, were pursuing work or had previously worked in the entertainment industry—found that 30 percent of biracial or multi-racial women and 22 percent of Black women responded that they had been denied opportunities that had been given to others in similar circumstances.
Eleven percent of Black and biracial or multiracial women reported that it had been implied often or very often that they were token hires, compared with three percent of White women and seven percent of Black men and three percent of men of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin, according to the report.
"Research clearly shows that diversity and inclusion is not only the right thing to do, it is good for creativity, productivity and the bottom line," said Hill, a lawyer and Brandeis University professor who drew national attention when she accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment before he was confirmed as a U.S. Supreme Court justice.
"The entertainment industry has the unique potential to tell the stories of today’s richly diverse world,” she said. “But to get there, the barriers to underrepresented people being valued and 'in the room where it happens’ must be eliminated. And once they do gtet into 'the room where it happens,’ they must not be the only one.”
Three out of four men in the entertainment industry indicated that they see progress being made in welcoming and valuing diverse backgrounds, compared with 63 percent of women, 47 percent of Black women and 59 percent of people with disabilities, according to the report.
Just under half of the male respondents reported that they believe diversity and inclusion are core values of the entertainment industry, with just 27 percent of Black women, 38 percent of women of Latino or Spanish origin and 42 percent of white women agreeing.
The commission recommended that the industry close gaps in awareness and provide tools to address behaviors in the workplace, including:
—Reviewing employment policies and procedures for their negative impact on individuals from underrepresented groups;
—Implementing performance evaluations that address bias and fostering diversity and inclusion in the workforce;
—Supporting mentorship, sponsorship and career coaching programs; and
—Investing in industry training options that include implicit bias training that empowers bystanders and addresses “microaggressions” and the violations of hiring and promotion standards.