In a first-of-its-kind diversity study released by Netflix, the company is determined to close diversity gaps. The online streaming platform says its committed to an “inclusion lens” to its work.
The OTT giant has also announced the creation of the Netflix Fund for Creative Equity, which will invest $100 million over the next five years in organizations that help underrepresented communities train and find jobs in TV and film. It is also committed to releasing an update on this study every two years through 2026.
Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s co-CEO, told CNBC that it’s important that the content reflects the people that are watching it. “I think the way people can connect with content, with a great movie or a great series, is that they see something of themselves in that, either that its very relatable, that it might look like them, or it reflects a life experience that they have also experienced.”
A team had conducted a research by examining all of the films and series Netflix commissioned between 2018 and 2019. Of the 22 inclusion indications, such as racial identities, LGBTQ+ and disabilities, 19 showed improvement over the two-year period.
The study found gender equality in leading roles across films and TV series. It also established that the platform is outpacing the industry in hiring women and people of color as directors. Netflix was also found to exceed proportional representation of Black leads and main cast. However, the study also found that other racial and ethnic groups were underrepresented relative to the US population. LatinX characters were just 4% of leads, despite being 12% of the population, and just 3% of creators and producers were LatinX. It found that LGBTQ+ characters were rare – just 4% of leads in films and 1% in TV series. And that while 27% of the US population identifies as having a disability, fewer than 1% of series leads, and just 5% of series main cast were characters with disabilities.
Sarandos, in a blog post, stated that inclusion behind the camera exponentially increases inclusion in front of the camera, and that both depend on ensuring that the platform’s executives commissioning these stories are also diverse. “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.”