AT&T didn’t take long to step up to the plate with regards to improving inclusion and diversity efforts within its new WarnerMedia division, pledging Wednesday to commit to further diversifying its future TV, movie and digital projects both in front of and behind the camera.
Three months after completing its $108.7 billion purchase of Time Warner – which includes cable networks TNT and HBO – AT&T released a policy statement outlining WarnerMedia’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Among the policy's initiatives, WarnerMedia says that in the early stages of the production process, “we will engage with our writers, producers and directors to create a plan for implementing this commitment to diversity and inclusion on our projects, with the goal of providing opportunities for individuals from under-represented groups at all levels.”
WarnerMedia will launch its initiative with Michael B. Jordan’s Just Mercy Warner Bros. Pictures project. Jordan (HBO's Fahrenheit 451) has already adopted inclusion riders for new projects within his production company Outlier Society.
“Inclusivity has always been a no-brainer for me, especially as a black man in this business. It wasn’t until Frances McDormand spoke the two words that set the industry on fire — inclusion rider — that I realized we could standardize this practice,“ he said. “The WarnerMedia family has introduced an approach that accomplishes our shared objectives, and I applaud them for taking this enormous step forward.”
In its policy statement, WarnerMedia says it has a “historic and proven commitment to diversity and inclusion … but there is much more we can do.”
Indeed, in a 2017 Directors Guild Of America survey, The Warner Bros. Companies and HBO ranked sixth and seventh among the top 10 largest TV studios in hiring women and minority directors.
WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey said the diversity policy is the “next logical step to improve our content and cement our leadership in contributing to positive change in the industry.”
Added Warner Bros Chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara: “I’m proud that Warner Bros. and our sister companies, HBO and Turner, are willing to state unequivocally that this is where we stand on diversity and inclusion. Our policy commits us to taking concrete action to further our goals, to measure the outcomes and to share the results publicly.”
The industry will certainly be monitoring WarnerMedia’s progress. As the company states: "it is essential that our content and creative partners reflect the diversity of our society and the world around us."
The full policy statement reads as follows:
WarnerMedia companies, Warner Bros., HBO and Turner, have long been committed to diversity and inclusion as moral and business imperatives. It is essential that our content and creative partners reflect the diversity of our society and the world around us. Together with other production companies, networks, guilds, unions, talent agencies and others in the industry, we all must ensure there is greater inclusion of women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, those with disabilities and other underrepresented groups in greater numbers both in front of and behind the camera.
For our part, WarnerMedia pledges to use our best efforts to ensure that diverse actors and crew members are considered for film, television and other projects, and to work with directors and producers who also seek to promote greater diversity and inclusion in our industry. To that end, in the early stages of the production process, we will engage with our writers, producers and directors to create a plan for implementing this commitment to diversity and inclusion on our projects, with the goal of providing opportunities for individuals from under-represented groups at all levels. And, we will issue an annual report on our progress.
The companies of WarnerMedia have a historic and proven commitment to diversity and inclusion. But there is much more we can do, and we believe real progress can be made in the industry. We will work with our partners in the entertainment community to make this commitment a reality.
R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.
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