- NEW YORK
AICP’s Equity & Inclusion Committee has released its inaugural annual report, highlighting a year of achievements and initiatives aimed at facilitating industry-wide change when it comes to employment opportunities for underrepresented people. Launched in 2020 by AICP’s National Board of Directors, the Committee’s mission is to implement strong, diverse programs and initiatives that will generate a demographic shift both real and sustainable, one that will provide access and opportunity to marginalized groups and result in a more inclusive industry across all areas of the business.
The Annual Report, which can be found here, provides an overview of the E&I Committee and the various tools, resources and best practices created in the past year, along with full listings of its subcommittees, their respective areas of focus and all committee members with their company affiliations. The Equity & Inclusion Committee is chaired by Tabitha Mason-Elliott, partner/head of production at BARK BARK, as well the AICP Southeast Chapter president and a member of AICP’s National Board of Directors and its Executive Committee.
In issuing the report, the Committee also introduced its latest effort, a new Demographic Reporting Initiative. As marketers and advertising agencies are requesting that their production and postproduction partners report on the demographic make-up of the crew and employees working on their projects, AICP identified challenges to collecting this data, including legal issues and protections in place to prevent discrimination. Over the course of the past year, AICP members, staff and legal counsel worked to find a solution to address these requests and create a demographic reporting methodology in conjunction with the payroll companies that service AICP members. The reporting initiative is a legally vetted, standardized, and effective methodology for reporting employment demographic data that can be shared with advertising agencies and marketers.
“Under Tabitha’s leadership, the AICP Equity & Inclusion committee has shown what our industry can do when it sets its mind to effecting real and lasting change,” said Matt Miller, president and CEO of AICP. “The progress we’ve made in establishing new ways to expand the talent base in our industry have been encouraging.”
“This report reflects the collective effort of so many people in our industry to try and level the playing field when it comes to opportunity,” said Mason-Elliott. “I’m incredibly proud of the massive committee efforts of our members as well as the dozens of companies that have taken hard looks at themselves and started to enact changes from within. We’ve reached out to our counterparts on the agency side to create a dialogue about equity and inclusion.
“In the coming year, we intend to go a step further by incorporating brands into that discussion as well, as we continue to address the systemic roadblocks that the industry presents to people of color,” Mason-Elliott continued. “Overall, we’ve made some significant strides that we’re proud of, but we have so much further to go. It is my greatest hope that we’ll have even more demonstrable progress to share when we issue our next report in 2022.”
Tools, resources & guidelines
Among the E&I Committee’s chief accomplishments over the past year has been the publication of recommended Best Practices for Engagement; supporting the Double the Line initiative; launching the AICP Mentoring Program; presenting an ongoing series of educational Commitment to Change webinars; and the publication of a Talent Resources database.
The Best Practices for Engagement are an evolving set of guidelines for agencies and marketers to consult when engaging talent. The product of a series of candid industry-wide roundtable discussions between members of an E&I subcommittee and representatives from agency creative and production, as well as brands, the guidelines address areas ranging from bidding to crews, casting, post production and certifications. The full set of guidelines provides a deep overview of the ways in which demographic hiring and opportunity can be positively impacted across the production and post spectrum.
Ali Brown, president of PRETTYBIRD, is the architect of Double the Line (DTL), which AICP and the E&I Committee embraced. DTL works by doubling a specific line in the bid form and hiring a BIPOC candidate to work alongside the selected role. Agencies and marketers consult with a production or post company to identify lines to double, and the initiative provides access to the commercial ranks for seasoned and experienced production professionals, such as a line producer, who has not had the opportunity to work in commercials previously.
The AICP Mentoring Program is designed to promote the growth and development of both members and mentees through a one-on-one, nurturing and mutually stimulating environment. The first cycle officially launched in July of this year with over 70 mentees. The AICP members who signed up to serve as mentors represent a cross-section of the industry from production through post. During the nine-month session, they will work with their mentees to pinpoint and resolve core challenges that can best benefit from the mentor’s experience.
The ongoing monthly series of Commitment to Change (C2C) webinars, first presented in June of 2020, highlight organizations that create opportunities across the spectrum of production, advertising and marketing for people of color, specifically the Black community. These presentations take away many of the perceived barriers for why diverse talent can’t be found to fill the ranks. Open to the industry at large, these informative and interactive events have to date featured 26 organizations nationwide.
With great numbers of AICP members seeking to source more diverse talent for their work, an E&I subcommittee compiled a list of Talent Resources available to both members and the industry at large, covering both above and below the line talent as well as postproduction. The entities on the list represent individuals with a wide range of experience and skills.
Demographic Reporting overview
The newly launched Demographic Reports will provide production companies, via their payroll company partners, with anonymous and voluntarily provided breakdowns on the gender and race/ethnicity of the employees they’ve hired for individual projects, and this information can in turn be shared with agencies and advertisers upon their request.
The payroll companies that played a key role in building the framework for the reports include CAPS, Cast & Crew; Entertainment Partners; Extreme Reach; Nashville Talent Partners; Payday; Revolution; The TEAM Companies; and Wrapbook. These companies began collecting this information from participating employees in September.
Miller stressed that the employees’ providing this demographic information are doing so only if they choose to share this information. It is paramount that filling out the requested data should not be perceived by employees as a condition of employment, but still as an overall positive action. AICP will not be privy to any of the data that comes out of the reporting efforts. Aggregated data will only be issued by the payroll companies to their clients, which are the production companies. They, in turn, can make the data available to their agency and advertiser clients upon request in the standardized format.
Miller and Mason-Elliott have encouraged AICP members to recommend to crew members that they respond to the demographic reporting questions when filling out their paperwork, while also being mindful of any sensitivities they may have. They stressed that the data gleaned from the report will provide a more accurate picture of employee diversity in production. “This is truly for the betterment of the industry, as it will help us reach our goal of making positive strides for greater inclusion,” Miller commented.