Streaming giant Netflix has made enormous strides in promoting more diverse content through avenues like Strong Black Lead, Netflix African Originals, and more. However, a diversity study commissioned by the company revealed there’s still much work to be done to offer more representation in TV and film.
CNBC reports that this past Friday, Netflix unveiled a first-of-its-kind diversity study — led by founder and director of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative Dr. Stacy L. Smith — to breakdown the makeup of Netflix’s on-screen talent, as well as the people behind-the-camera such as creators, producers, writers and directors.
The USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative — the leading think tank in the world studying diversity and inclusion in entertainment through research — regularly produces these in-depth reports on diversity in film and television in the industry.
Within this recent study, Dr. Smith and her team examined all of the films and series Netflix commissioned between the years of 2018 and 2019. CNBC reports that of the 22 inclusion indicators — i.e. racial identities, LGBTQ+ and disabilities — 19 showed improvement over the two-year period.
The motive behind this comprehensive study, according to co-CEO Ted Sarandos, was to ask the hard questions that hold a microscope up to the gaps in diversity on and off-screen — including inquiries such as “Whose voice is missing? Is this portrayal authentic? Who is excluded?,” CNBC shares.
In an interview with Forbes, Dr. Smith revealed the process behind Netflix’s internal decision to analyze the progress they’ve made with diversity and what the next steps are to fix this issue.
“I think for any company that really wants to reflect the stories of their consumer base and their audience, it’s wise to do an internal audit and see where they might be reflecting the world, where they may be leading, and where they may be coming up short,” she told the outlet. “It’s something we’ve advocated for for years, and it’s just fantastic given the volume of the content Netflix has and the values of the company, that all of these aligned and they decided to undertake this process and be transparent in rolling out the results.”
“On the most prominent indicators, we’re seeing proportional representation with the U.S. population being reflected. There are other places where there’s vast room for improvement, but it’s very similar to what we have found in evaluating film generally—in particular, the epidemic of invisibility,” she added.
Following this study, co-CEO Sarandos revealed that the streaming company would be rolling out a new $100 million fund over the next five years — in partnership with external organizations — to get diversity and inclusion on its platform in better standing for success of underrepresented communities.
“Doing better means establishing even more opportunities for people from underrepresented communities to have their voices heard, and purposefully closing capacity and skill gaps with training programs where they are needed,” he said in a blog post.
This latest news is just another big step for Netflix toward building a legacy that advocates for inclusion.
For more information on Netflix’s Inclusion in Netflix Original U.S.
Scripted Series & Films report, click here.