This past year has renewed and strengthened the fight against the longstanding issues of systemic racism and inequality, motivating companies to make noticeable strides toward inclusion. Studies show that businesses grow significantly and that innovation thrives with the inclusion of more perspectives and representation.
With the pandemic having us view more content than ever before, the media industry has a big opportunity to affect this change. Netflix is at the hub of media and content creation, which means if it makes the right moves, it can play a key role in shifting the landscape of the future of media.
There has been a lot of improvement at Netflix in terms of on-screen representation, but there is a lot of internal work to be done. Netflix already added inclusion to its core values a few years ago, and a direct result is that stories that were never available before are now being widely watched. According to Vernā Myers, VP of inclusion strategy at Netflix, this is because there are new storytellers behind the scenes who offer different backgrounds and perspectives.
The Netflix brand recognized that for its content to be as diverse as possible, it needs to invest in professionals who can help guide the process of making their internal culture inclusive. Part of Myers’ job as the VP of inclusion strategy is the creation of a panel of experts that colleagues can learn from overtime. Myers stresses that creating in-depth cultural change and addressing the previously unacknowledged issues of systemic inequality is not going to happen overnight. The process must be comprehensive, thoughtful, and strategic so that the shift is not just cosmetic, but an evolving and improving scheme.
Myers also encourages conversations between executives at Netflix about uncomfortable topics such as privilege. Once individuals identify their privilege, they also identify the leverage they have to manipulate their environment and create opportunities for equity and inclusivity.
The idea is to cultivate the general understanding within the brand of concepts and vocabulary attached to inclusivity. The teams at Netflix can utilize this knowledge to analyze what they do daily and inform how they perform, from the hiring process to how meetings are held. The inclusion team targets internal change, which will affect the kind of work produced and the teams involved in its creation.
In January 2021, Netflix released a company-wide inclusion report for the first time. This report offers an idea of where the company is in terms of diversity so that they celebrate improvement as well as identify areas that need work.
Netflix puts out so much content, which means that it needs a lot of talent. Now that there is a demand for people, Netflix, and the media have the means to populate a once extremely exclusive industry with diverse identities and perspectives. Myers hopes that as a result, people will see that difference is not something to fear but is part of what makes us strong enough to move forward.