Last week the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences unveiled the names of a record 322 invitees, a giant leap from the 133 average of the previous decade. The new list saw big increases in expanding colour, gender, age and national origin reflecting its goal of inclusiveness for world’s most powerful film awards ceremony.
Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said, “Every step we take, we are stepping toward the goal of normalisation — I love that word. This is a continuum. The goal is the normalisation in having artists and films represent society as a whole”.
This has come after the Academy has been heavily criticised in recent years and in particular, this year Civil rights groups were calling for a boycott of the Oscars ceremony in Los Angeles to demand more diversity among Academy Awards voters after no actors from ethnic minority groups earned nominations. The boycott was dropped at the last minute, but the sustained pressure and a multitude of negative media coverage forced the Academy’s hand.
Two things here,
1) Lobbying and articulating noise around diversity and inclusion really can have an impact, but we rarely take this approach in the UK. Okay so the culture of things is different here, but as agents of change why should we adopt the norm?
There was a time in the UK when people organised themselves, then lobbied and marched for change that was the culture of things; some groups still do, but when it comes to issues of race, there is a muted voice, almost an underlying coyness and a degree of embarrassment to raise the issue and talk about it?
Why is this, the case?
Have we been sold the illusion that there is no issue for race, the box has been ticked and everything is okay? (Unfortunately the data tells a different story.)
Do we need a new narrative to prevent people from becoming defensive when raising issues on race?
Do we actually need to re-frame the language to keep race on the agenda?
Do we need new leadership which can articulate the new narrative and engage people on this issue in a open and positive way?
2) Secondly the academy has made changes to the process and criteria for inviting new members and can look beyond just the list of recent nominees. In the corporate world the list of recent nominees has its own slightly subtler equivalent in the shape of rigid qualifications and inflexible work experience criteria, as opposed to focusing on the skills required to do the job.
Whether you’re inviting new members to join or recruiting new talent, simple and small changes to processes and systems can make a big difference to creating an inclusive experience, as I highlighted in the piece I published last week, “Good recruitment is inclusive recruitment”.
Beyond process and systems, to create an inclusive recruitment experience we need to factor in a range of other things, including an awareness of how we are hard wired as individuals and an understanding of why and how we make the decisions we do. That is, managing our unconscious biases, this is what I will be writing about next week.
Thanks for your time!