In this issue:
- A lack of diversity among decision makers at media organizations leads to negative portrayals of marginalized groups, particularly of Black people.
- The pay gap between women’s and men’s earnings in the U.S. shrank in 2021, but there is still a long way to go to achieve pay equity, including in the media and marketing industry.
- Organizational inclusion efforts have primarily focused on race and gender, potentially obscuring more “invisible” components of employee identity, including sexual orientation, disability, and age.
- Disney’s decision to not condemn Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill is leading to a series of employee walkouts.
- Media organizations are being asked to do more to support content creators of color.
Media creators do not reflect the diversity of their audience
Many media organizations have made significant strides in hiring and creating support programs for employees of diverse backgrounds, but a lack of similar change at the executive level has led to continued negative portrayals of people of color, specifically Black people. A new report from the NAACP’s Hollywood Bureau, covered by Deadline, found this disregard and stereotyping could have large negative impact on Black youth, and more Black executives are needed in greenlighting and development decisions.
Beyond Hollywood, it has long been an issue in the larger media landscape that content creators don’t look like content consumers. An ANA report found that executives at WPP, Publicis, Dentsu, Omnicom, and IPG were 82-85% white, per Business Insider, and among CMOs, 3% are Black, 5% are Asian, and 4% are Hispanic. According to the 2020 U.S. Census data, 13% of the American population is Black, 6% is Asian, and 19% is Hispanic.
Related: The need to increase workplace diversity could potentially be addressed by hiring more freelancers, writes Katherine Reynolds Lewis in Nieman Reports. Journalists of diverse backgrounds are often pushed out of newsrooms due to racist and exclusionary work environments, and turn to freelancing as an alternative. These freelancers bring a new perspective that could also contribute to newsrooms’ abilities to reach new audiences.
Pay equity improved in 2021
The U.S. pay gap between women and men has shrank in the past year, according to a statistics compilation from Worklife. Some notable takeaways:
- The average woman makes 85 cents for every dollar a man takes home, which is up two cents from last year.
- If pay equity continues increasing at this rate, the gender pay gap for women could close by 2029.
- Pay disparity for women in leadership roles is shrinking twice as quickly, with women in leadership making 90 cents for every man’s dollar, up 4 cents from last year.
- 63% of women report the tight labor market is giving them greater leverage in pay negotiations.
Within U.S. media companies, the pay gap is lower than the national average, at around 7.8%, reports Marketing Week. Clearly, more work needs to be done, but there is some positive movement in this area.
Inclusion is about more than gender and race
A new report from the McKenzie-Delis Review finds that companies in the U.S., including several prominent media and marketing organizations, are primarily focusing on gender and race when implementing inclusion initiatives. Highlighting these “visible” facets of diversity can obscure other, “invisible” components of employee identity, including sexual orientation, disability, age, socioeconomic status, religion, parenthood and caring responsibilities, mental health and wellness, and generation, says the organization’s founder, Leila McKenzie-Delis. Below is a chart ranking the companies’ different focus areas on a 100-point scale:
The report argues that companies, including those in the media and marketing space, need to focus on a wider range of employee identities if they want to create a truly inclusive culture.
Disney employees planning walkout over company’s response to Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill
Florida’s proposed “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which prevents public school teachers from addressing sexuality and gender identity within their classrooms, has been a lightning rod of controversy in recent weeks. Disney has given money to several politicians backing the bill, and Disney employees are furious at CEO Bob Chapek’s initial silence on the topic (he now says Disney will pause all political donations in Florida). According to The Verge, Disney employees are planning a series of 15-minute virtual walkouts, which started March 15, and will culminate in a day-long walkout on March 22, known as the Disney Do Better Walkout. Marvel, whose parent company is Disney, released their own Twitter statement condemning the bill, saying the studio denounces “any and ALL legislation that infringes on the basic human rights of the LGBTQIA+ community.”
Black creators sign open letter to Twitch
Media companies and platforms are coming under fire for not hiring influencers of color – and not having mechanisms to protect them on platforms. Black creators are calling on Twitch to do more to protect streamers of color from harassment on the platform, Digiday reports. The creators are seeking improved communication regarding harassment complaints, better moderation to protect Black creators featured on Twitch’s front page, and privacy improvements. The concerns stem from “hate raids,” targeted attacks against women and BIPOC streamers on the platform, which used to be driven by bots, but more and more of which are coming from other platform users. Media companies are increasingly relying on content creators to help them reach diverse audiences – and yet creators of color still struggle to get discovered, and get paid.
Related: In a more positive example of creator support, Denny’s is collaborating with 24 TikTok creators of diverse backgrounds for a series of limited-time menu offerings, per MarketingDive.
Other notable reads:
- The Lenfest Institute interviewed ten women in product, revenue, and journalism support roles about how they got started in the industry – and the importance of mentoring.
- COVID taught us that work can be done anywhere, but can it also be done anytime? A New York Times opinion piece argues that flexibility in working hours is beneficial for all employees, but particularly those with disabilities and those with caregiving responsibilities (disproportionately women). Is work flexibility the new frontier in DEI initiatives, and how will media companies square a flexible schedule with clients’ needs?
- Some advertisers and agencies have committed to spending more money on collaborations with underrepresented media creators. Investing in podcasts could be an effective means of achieving this goal, reports MarketingDive.