Netflix to Invest $100 Million to Improve Diversity in TV Shows, Films
More than 50% of Netflix films and TV series feature women in starring roles, meaning the streaming service has reached gender parity for on-screen representation, according to the first comprehensive study on diversity and inclusion in its film and series programming.
The study analyzed the makeup of Netflix’s on-screen talent (based on gender, race/ethnicity, LGBTQ+ or disability identity) and storylines, as well as its creators, producers, writers and directors, for 126 films and 180 series released during 2018-2019, comparing Netflix’s representation to that shown in the year’s 100 top-grossing films or episodic content. The data was also compared the U.S. Census information to determine the content’s proportional representation to the makeup of the population in 2018-2019. The study also explored the intersection of gender and underrepresented status across these inclusion indicators.
The number of female-led projects at Netflix (52% of its content) surpasses the industry as a whole. To compare, among the top-grossing films of the year, only 41% featured women in lead or co-lead roles.
Behind the camera, the study showed that Netflix also ranked substantially higher than the industry norm on hiring women directors and producers. For its fictional films, 23.1% of Netflix’s directors were women, vastly outpacing the top-grossing films in Hollywood, where only 7.6% of the directors were women. For writers and producers, 25.2% and 29% were women, respectively, in comparison to the industry’s 16.7% and 19%.
However, while the number of women of color who directed a Netflix film was nearly triple that of the top 100 films (6.2% versus 2.2%), the figure was flipped on the series front (with Netflix employing women of color to direct 5.9% of the shows, versus a 7.1% figure industry-wide). But still, the findings revealed that opportunities for women of color were lacking in comparison to their white male counterparts (66.2%).
“There’s something else that’s important about this study — it’s historic,” Smith’s study notes. “At the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, we’re not aware of any other company taking a leadership role and making their findings as transparent and rolling out those results to all the communities that either work on Netflix films and series, or consume them as audiences. And given the size and scope of Netflix content, particularly as it relates to its entertainment industry peers, the results show one thing very clear — Netflix is committed to inclusion across its content portfolio. And we’re excited to see what the results might yield in years to come.”
In a blog post released with the study, Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos also announced that the streamer has created a $100 million fund for creative equity, investing over the next five years in “a combination of external organizations with a strong track record of setting underrepresented communities up for success in the TV and film industries, as well as bespoke Netflix programs that will help us to identify, train and provide job placement for up-and-coming talent globally.”