Rege-Jean Page and Phoebe Dynevor star in Netflix’s “Bridgerton.”
Netflix on Friday launched a one-of-a-kind diversity study to analyze the makeup of Netflix’s on-screen talent, as well as creators, producers, writers and directors behind the camera.
The report shows that the company has made progress, but still has more work to do to close diversity gaps. The company says it is committing to an “inclusive lens” in its work, which, according to co-CEO Ted Sarandos, means asking questions like, “Whose voice is missing? Is this representation authentic?
The company also announced the creation of the Netflix Fund for Creative Equity, which will invest $ 100 million over the next five years in organizations that help underrepresented communities train and find jobs in television and film. Netflix also committed to releasing an update to this study every two years until 2026.
The study was conducted, at the request of Netflix, by Stacy Smith, who has a Ph.D. in communications and human development and is the founder and director of USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative produces regular reports on diversity in film and television. Smith’s team examined all the movies and series Netflix commissioned between 2018 and 2019. Of the 22 inclusion indicators (such as racial identities, LGBTQ +, and disabilities), 19 showed improvement over the two-year period.
Netflix’s strengths in diversity lie around women. The study found gender equality in leading roles in movies and television series. Smith also found that Netflix is outpacing the industry in hiring women and people of color as directors. Netflix was also found to exceed the proportional representation of the black leads and the main cast.
But the report also found that other racial and ethnic groups were underrepresented relative to the American population. LatinX characters were only 4% of potential customers, despite being 12% of the population, and only 3% of creators and producers were LatinX.
The study also found that LGBTQ + characters were rare – only 4% of potential customers in movies and 1% in TV series. And while the study says that 27% of the US population identifies with a disability, less than 1% of the series ‘protagonists and only 5% of the series’ main cast were characters with disabilities.
“Dr. Smith’s years of research, including this new study, confirm that the inclusion behind
the camera exponentially increases inclusivity in front of the camera, and both depend on ensuring that the Netflix executives commissioning these stories are also diverse, “Sarandos wrote in a blog post about the report.” Doing better means establishing even more opportunities for underrepresented communities to have their voices heard, and intentionally closing capacity and skills gaps with training programs where they are needed. “
Friday’s news and the company’s fund is the latest in a series of commitments to diversity.
In January, the company released its first Inclusion Report on Netflix’s Employee Ranks. And in June, Netflix made a $ 100 million commitment to support black communities by investing 2% of its cash in black financial institutions that serve low- and moderate-income communities.
Netflix founder and co-CEO Reed Hastings has also made a personal commitment to diversity. In June, Hastings and his wife donated $ 120 million to historically black colleges and universities.