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#oscarssoshiteThe 2015 hashtag #OscarsSoWhite grew legs and ran a marathon. The all-white roster of nominees at the 2015 Academy Awards was repeated in 2016. Some of Hollywood’s elite boycotted this year’s ceremony and the host, Chris Rock, made the issue the centerpiece of his monologue and a recurring theme throughout the evening.

“The lack of nominees from marginalized communities was just a symptom of a much larger problem. The pressure must still be placed on Hollywood studio executives to make more quality films that represent marginalized communities so that they can be nominated. In the coming months, I would hope that we see from the academy and from all of the people in the film industry that they are applying pressure to the Hollywood studios to greenlight films from a broader perspective.”

“I would encourage everybody to be more mindful of the movies on which they spend their hard earned money. If the cast does not look like them, does not represent their stories, perhaps choose not to see their films and instead seek out stories that tell the diversity and the beauty and nuance of all people.”

April Reign, creator of #OscarsSoWhite

Imagine the Academy is your company. If your organization scored badly on a diversity and inclusion assessment, and did nothing to change its policies, procedures, hiring practices or leadership development – would you expect it to change? Of course not. Corrective actions and training must take place in order for real change to occur.

After the 2015 Oscars, there were no changes made.  In 2016 the situation was once again the same (lack of diversity) although the negative reaction was much stronger. Changes are now being made.

  • JJ Abrams production company, Bad Robot, has teamed with its agency, CCA, and studio partners to require that women and people of color are submitted for writing, directing and acting jobs in proportion to their representation in the U.S. population.
  • The Drudge Report tweeted “Hollywood Frenzy: #OscarsSoWhite Spurs Diversity Casting Boom…”
  • The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 51-member board of governors unanimously approved a series of sweeping and historic changes designed to diversify its membership. The extensive new rules include a commitment to doubling the number of women and minorities in the academy by 2020 and limiting lifetime voting rights.

“It’s the right thing to do. We’ve been a more than predominantly white institution for a long time. We thought, we’ve got to change this and reflect the community much better.”

Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Academy President

If your company has diversity issues, what steps can you take?

  • Conduct a diversity and inclusion self-assessment to provide a baseline understanding.
  • Diversity and inclusion training at all levels
  • Leadership training
  • Set up a Diversity Council
  • Incorporate diversity and inclusion throughout the entire employee career path – beginning with hiring

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Kicking it into ‘high gear,’ academy president says Oscar changes are ‘the right thing to do’,” Rebecca Keegan, Jan. 22, 2016