Even Americans want more diversity on TV.
For years, both policy makers and industry leaders have talked about the need for more diversity and inclusiveness in a series of diversity initiatives and initiatives. So what should a diversity initiative to bolster diversity look like? As most of us know, our diversity is not just the culture we live, but who we vote for and when we choose to retire.
If a diverse leadership team in your organization is looking to add a new member to their executive team, how about bringing in an executive with a diverse background? Surely that diversity helps balance out the constantly rotating conservative Republican extremists who run our government?
TV shows are at a similar crossroads as many business industries. There is no business model, no playbook, no software for optimizing a company for diversification and inclusiveness. Television, then, is a place that bridges the gap between business and culture.
A new diversity study reveals people prefer diversity on TV and that audiences also have appetite for more diversity in the shows they are watching. The survey, which was presented at the 2018 Think Forward conference in the U.K., surveyed the reactions of over 4,000 adults when asked about their opinions on diversity on TV. The study found that that viewers also look forward to seeing diversity reflected in their social media feeds.
The TV industry has a problem. Its shows all show a typical view of the world. We know which races and genders dominate by the content that is produced. The problem with this is that there is a lack of diversity of wealth and age range in these series. This means less minorities and a much less reflective world.
Now, this survey is saying that people don’t want the world portrayed like we see on TV. This is not a great message to send right now, especially when people are paying for companies that show they are trying to do the right thing.
The survey found that more than half of the audience also expects TV to have more diversity of age. In the U.S., the average age is rising to 51.6; in the U.K., it is 38.2. The TV industry should look at this as the starting point to creating TV shows that reflect the values of our country’s diverse population and a healthy balance of well-paid young and old, rich and poor.
The survey also found there is a desire for a vision of diversity in the age range, but respondents acknowledged they do not have the information to identify it. There is a need for positive storytelling and many are trying to find creative ways to showcase diversity. Even McDonald’s is trying to recruit older employees for positions that do not usually find workers that age. The survey’s findings about age increase reinforces the need for a more diverse workforce with a wider array of career paths and salaries.
People want to see other people like them on TV. It’s about fostering a positive and tolerant environment in the workplace and bringing younger generations to an employer. This can only happen if we as an industry balance our short-term interests with a long-term outlook.
You do not need to be Barack Obama or Tom Hanks to make your business diversity work.
Whether it’s tweaking or creating a better platform for diversity and inclusion in business or bringing in new perspectives and ideas through young talent, the cultural changes that can help solve our diversity problem are not super-computers. They are possible, and achievable, but the people in your organization must have the spirit of independence and creativity to help develop an ecosystem and culture that looks more like the world outside your office. The road to change is long and not paved with quick solutions, but that doesn’t mean that the change won’t be possible.
Leaders are implementing their own diversity initiatives, but companies who look outside of their comfort zone can help bring out the best in each other by supporting diversity in all aspects of the business. This changes the face of business ownership and diversity is everything.
Jon Klassen is senior vice president of interactive solutions at Mindshare North America and creator of the widely-praised TV series Kicking & Screaming.