Netflix has committed to spending US$100 million over the next five years to improve diversity in its company.
This follows the completion of its first-of-its-kind diversity study. This study analysed the makeup of Netflix’s on-screen talent, as well as the behind-the-camera creators, producers, writers and directors.
According to the report, the company has made progress, but still has more work to do to close diversity gaps.
The study was conducted at Netflix’s request, by Stacy Smith, who has a PhD in communications and human development and is the founder and director of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative.
Smith’s team examined all of the films and series Netflix commissioned between 2018 and 2019. Of the 22 inclusion indicators (such as racial identities, LGBTQ+ and disabilities), 19 showed improvement over the two-year period.
Smith found that Netflix is ahead of the industry as it relates to hiring women and people of color as directors. Netflix was also found to exceed proportional representation of Black leads and the main cast.
But the report also found that other racial and ethnic groups were underrepresented relative to the US population. LatinX characters were just four per cent of leads, despite being 12 per cent of the population, and just three per cent of creators and producers were LatinX.
The study also found that LGBTQ+ characters were rare: just 4 per cent of leads in film and one per cent in TV series. And while the study says that 27 per cent of the US population identifies as having a disability, fewer than 1 per cent of series leads, and just five per cent of series main cast were characters with disabilities.
To fix this, Netflix says it’s committing to an “inclusion lens” to its work, which co-CEO Ted Sarandos says means asking questions like, “Whose voice is missing? Is this portrayal authentic? Who is excluded?”