Concrete Steps Entertainment and Media Companies Are Taking to Improve Diversity

Umberto Gonzalez

As issues around race and the recognition of systemic racism continue to dominate the national conversation, some Hollywood companies have — in addition to condemning racism — taken concrete steps to help the fight for social justice and recognize the struggles of black Americans.

On June 26, United Talent Agency (UTA) said it would, among other steps to improve its own internal make up, commit $1 million to social justice causes over a four-year period.

The agency also said it would increase representation of people of color throughout UTA, including senior-level positions, institute unconscious bias training for all UTA employees, commit to increasing wages for assistants and other entry-level colleagues, and ensure that candidates of color are actively pursued and considered for every available position at the company.

“The past few weeks have shown that we must address the pace in which we’ve approached our diversity and inclusion efforts,” UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer said in a statement. “It’s our responsibility to move forward with immediacy to ensure change happens, as a company and as individuals. I am incredibly grateful to my colleagues who stepped up and spoke truth to power. They are making UTA an even better place to work and helping drive true and meaningful progress well beyond our four walls.”

These moves come after UTA said it would shut down its U.S. offices on June 19, in recognition of the Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. The agency wasn’t alone, Endeavor also announced that it would make Juneteenth an official holiday for its staffers in the U.S., effective this year.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said the company would donate $5 million in an effort to support Black communities and storytellers in Hollywood.

“Tackling racism and injustice in meaningful ways means creating long-term opportunities for the Black community. The main role we play is through our funding of and member viewing of important content like ‘When They See Us,'” Hastings said. “As an additional step, today we’re committing $5 million to nonprofits dedicated to creating direct opportunities for Black creators, Black youth and Black-owned businesses.”

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Netflix is donating $5 million across organizations that help Black creators, youth and businesses, and the streamer also matches employee donations at 200%.

A3 also said it will close its offices on June 19 in observance of Juneteenth, also making it a paid holiday for staffers. The announcement was made to staffers on a company-wide Zoom call on Friday. Additionally, A3 also announced it has formed a new Inclusion, Diversity, Equality and Awareness (IDEA) Committee. The purpose of the IDEA committee, the company says, is “to create an atmosphere of sensitivity and inclusion, promote diversity, foster equity, build social and racial awareness, and put forth action items we can take individually and as a company. “

Creative Artists Agency (CAA) announced that Juneteenth would be observed as a paid holiday for all staffers starting this year and will do so annually moving forward.

The New York Times also announced on last week that it was observing Juneteenth as a paid holiday this year. A number of other companies — including Vox Media, Twitter, Nike and the NFL — are now recognizing the holiday for their employees. Postmates founder and CEO Bastian Lehmann said his company would be celebrating Juneteenth “permanently,” and “not just in response to the moment.”

Juneteenth, also referred to as Freedom Day, commemorates when news of the abolition of slavery reached the last of the enslaved people in Galveston, Texas as the Union army read the federal order on June 19, 1865 almost two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

Trey Williams contributed to this report.

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