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The Hollywood Diversity Officer's Dilemma: "Everybody's in a Different Place When It Comes to Inclusion"

The industry has moved quickly to hire and elevate executives focused on diversifying teams and content — in a changing landscape, the complex role "is tiring, but it's rewarding."


The Hollywood Reporter | April 30, 2019


The Hollywood Reporter article, “The Hollywood Diversity Officer's Dilemma: "Everybody's in a Different Place When It Comes to Inclusion,"" quoted Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Tina Shah Paikeday on how Hollywood is embracing the role of CDO now more than ever. The article is excerpted below.

When DreamWorks Animation executives wanted a fresh perspective on character designs for one of their TV shows recently, they sent the illustrations to Janine Jones-Clark, senior vp of parent Universal's global talent development and inclusion department. "They were creating an African American character," Jones-Clark recalls. "My suggestion had to do with authenticity in hairstyle and texture."

Her note is one of the small ways in which Jones-Clark — and others in Hollywood with the word "diversity," "inclusion" or "multicultural" in their job title — are increasingly making an impact on not only who their companies hire but also the content they create. Chief diversity officer (CDO) is a relatively new job title; 47 percent of companies in the S&P 500 index have a CDO or equivalent, and 63 percent of those have been appointed or promoted to the role in the past three years, according to a recent study by executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates. It's a job with growing prominence in a Hollywood rocked by such social movements as #MeToo and Time's Up, not to mention evolving audience demographics, and it's one that requires a unique kind of emotional ambidexterity. Publicly, CDOs cheer on their companies' progress and tout their inclusion programs, while privately they must nudge the most powerful people inside their organizations toward uncomfortable conversations about workforce and creative decisions.

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The role has evolved, says Tina Shah Paikeday, one of the Russell Reynolds study's authors and leader of the firm's global diversity and consulting services practice. "Historically there was a focus on compliance [with federal laws]," she explains. "But today the successful CDO is able to chip away at the problem, to use data to tell the narrative within an organization."

To read the full article, click here.


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The Hollywood Diversity Officer's Dilemma: "Everybody's in a Different Place When It Comes to Inclusion"