WarnerMedia Issues Diversity Report Showing Progress and Challenges

(Image credit: WarnerMedia)

NEW YORK—In a notable and rare attempt by a major media company to provide some transparency and facts relating its diversity efforts, WarnerMedia has released new data showing some progress in its attempts to build a more diverse workforce and a more inclusive talent-base for its productions. 

WarnerMedia’s newly released, “The Power of Stories,” which offers the company’s findings from its “2020/21 Equity and Inclusion” (E&I) shows notable improvements in the percentage of women and people of color working behind the camera on its scripted TV and film productions but also found that the management is less diverse than it’s overall workforce or the U.S. population. 

The report found that in WarnerMedia’s U.S.-based scripted shows, the on-screen representation was 36% women, up 2% from 2019, and 29% for people of color, up 5% from 2019. In terms of behind-the-camera representation, 28% were women, up 5% from 2019 and 29% were people of color, up 6% from 2019.

The study found that Warner Bros. Pictures’ on-screen representation was 30% women, down 4% from 2019 while 29% were people of color, up 5% from 2019. Behind-the-camera, 27% women, up 4% from 2019 while 27% were people of color, up 4% from 2019.

Much better results were reported for animation: 54% of animated protagonists in development at Cartoon Network are female and 52% of lead characters in development at Warner Bros. Animation are female. 

In terms of the overall workforce, 54% were men and 46% were women among its global employees. 

The report found that In the U.S. workforce, 58% are White, 12% Asian American 12% Black, 11% Hispanic/Latinx, 3% two or more races, 0.3% Native Hawaiian/ Pacific Islander, 0.1% Native American/Native Alaskan and 3% declined to state a race/ethnicity. 

But the report found that management-level positions were less diverse. The company’s management was 62% White, followed by Asian American 14%, Black 9%, Hispanic/Latinx 9%, "decline to state" 3%, two or more races 3%, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 0.4%, Native American/Native Alaskan 0.1%.

Things became even less diverse on the senior management level of executives with a title of vice-president or higher, with whites comprising 72%, followed by 10% Asian-American, 7% Black and 6% Hispanic. 

However, recent hiring and promotion data from 2020, showed movement towards more diversity, with 58% of the senior management hired or promoted in 2020 being white, followed by 14% Asian-American, 12% Black and 7% Hispanic. 

The report also outlined a host of programs and efforts to improve those figures and provides extensive detail into equity and inclusion efforts by WarnerMedia’s global portfolio of content and Brands (including Cartoon Network, CNN, DC, HBO, HBO Max, TNT and Warner Bros. Television and Pictures) as well as overall deals, business resource groups, employee experiences, social impact efforts, and pipeline programs. 

“Stories that deeply resonate can change how a person contextualizes the world,” said Jason Kilar, CEO at WarnerMedia.  “Not only do we get to work on this, but we get to work on this at scale. We are a missionary team of nearly 30,000 team members... inspired, passionate and, of course, with the potential to do far more. And that is a good thing given there is so much more to do. These were important steps towards making WarnerMedia more equitable and inclusive. And yet we all acknowledge that the bulk of the work is still in front of us.”

“I firmly believe that talent is distributed equally in the world we live in today, but opportunity is not always evenly distributed,” added Christy Haubegger, executive vice president of communications and chief inclusion officer at WarnerMedia. “That is why we have an Equity & Inclusion strategy that has been put into place to open those opportunities — across our workforce, our content, our pipeline programs, and the work we do within our communities. It is not about random acts of diversity. It’s about ongoing, measured and systemic change if we are going to achieve true equity for everyone.”

The report and a great deal of additional data can be found at the Equity and Inclusion Report Website (opens in new tab).

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.