Sunday, June 24, 2018
  • Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017
DGA Reports Progress In Hiring of Women and Minority Directors For Episodic TV
Thomas Schlamme, president of the DGA
But questions raised in Guild’s 2016-’17 study as to commitment of some employers to inclusion, diversity
  • --

Ethnic and gender diversity among episodic television directors continued to increase this past season, the Directors Guild of America reported, with the percentage of episodes directed by ethnic minorities rising by 3 percentage points to a record 22% of all episodes, while the percentage directed by women went up 4 points to 21% of all episodes, another all-time high.

Further breaking down the data by ethnicity:

  • Caucasians (male and female) directed 78% of all episodes,
  • African-Americans directed 13%,
  • Asian-Americans directed 5%, and
  • Latinos directed 4%

The DGA’s annual report on the subject analyzed an all-time high of nearly 4,500 episodes produced in the 2016-2017 television season, up from 4,061 episodes in the prior season.

“While this report, and our recent report on hiring of first-time TV directors, reflect some progress overall, there are stark disparities among the major studios that raise questions about how committed to inclusion some employers really are,” said DGA President Thomas Schlamme. “We want to make sure that every talented individual has an equal shot, and a path forward. But for that to happen, employers must expand their hiring processes to discover the world of capable directors hiding in plain sight. Frankly, it’s hard to understand why they’re not doing more. Even if all the right reasons are not enough for them, they should at least be motivated by the bottom line – inclusion just makes good business sense.”

Report Highlights
The TV universe and the pace of growth has accelerated: There were 4,482 episodes in the 2016-2017 season--representing a 10% increase in total episodes since the 2015-2016 season, and 42% increase since just five seasons ago.

With that expansion came more directing jobs for all: 

Minorities directed 1,006 episodes – 223 more episodes than in the 2015-2016 season (a 28% increase). The total number of individual minority directors employed in episodic television grew 46% to 205 (up from 140 in the 2015-2016 season).

Women directed 955 episodes – 253 more episodes than in the 2015-2016 season (a 36% increase). The total number of individual women directors employed in episodic television grew 45% to 262 (up from 180 in the 2015-2016 season).

And while the percentage of episodes directed by Caucasian males decreased to 62% (from 67% in the 2015-2016 season)--the actual number of episodes went up slightly from 2,717 the year prior to 2,749 (Note: this includes episodes directed by 108 Caucasian male first-time episodic television directors). The total number of individual Caucasian male directors employed in episodic television grew 5% to 757 (up from 723 in the 2015-2016 season).

Combined, the 10 dominant industry employers oversaw the production of more than 75% of the episodes covered in this report. By aggregating the episodes from each employer, differences in the companies’ hiring patterns emerge.

Taking a look at the rankings, Twentieth Century Fox, CBS, NBC Universal and Amazon held the top four spots in the hiring of diverse directors, with Fox leading the way overall and in the hiring of minority directors. Amazon led in the hiring of women directors, but took the second to last spot in the hiring of minority directors.

In the middle were Disney/ABC, Warner Bros., and HBO. While HBO was strong in the hiring of women directors, the studio was also in the bottom third in the hiring of minority directors. 

Sony and Viacom held the eighth and ninth spots, while Netflix hired the lowest percentage of diverse directors. 

The DGA has been pressing studios, networks, and producers to be more inclusive in hiring for more than 35 years. Its efforts include: collective bargaining gains requiring television studios to operate TV director diversity programs, and all first-time TV directors to attend a DGA orientation; ongoing meetings with studios, networks and individual series regarding their hiring records; and publicized reports detailing employer hiring patterns. In addition, the Guild itself has initiated a variety of TV director mentorship and educational programs to support the career development of its members.