On Promoting Diversity, A+E Networks Walks the Walk
The Walter Kaitz Foundation Fundraising Dinner is the annual gathering of media and entertainment leaders dedicated to recognizing women and multi-ethnic contributions to the cable industry. Now in its 33rd year, the dinner recognizes organizations that have achieved significant milestones in promoting diversity in their workforce and their programming. This year, A+E Networks and the National Association of Independent Latino Producers (NALIP) are the dinner honorees, with NALIP taking the diversity advocate award and A+ E receiving the diversity champion award. Earlier this month, we learned more about NALIP’s work in bringing diverse voices to television and filmmaking. For this week, we delved a little deeper into A+E Networks to find out about the various ways the award winner is promoting diversity in house, in the media and to their millions of viewers.
Today, A + E reaches 330 million TV watchers worldwide and 500 million digital users, and uses its large influence to touch on tough topics, such as racial diversity and sexuality, through its programming. HISTORY’s remake of Roots was a huge success this year, bringing the groundbreaking story of slavery and individuality to a whole new generation. The travel documentary Gaycation on Viceland explores not only sexual orientation, but also the cultural dynamics of foreign LGBTQ communities. And Broke Bites: What the Fung, follows Chinese American YouTube stars, The Fung Brothers on a culinary journey around America.
The A+E channel Lifetime also created the Broad Focus initiative, which is designed to support creative women both in front of the camera and behind it. They are hiring more women as directors, producers, writers and leaders to not only provide more professional opportunities, but to represent women in the industry as well. When asked about the initiative, A+E CEO Nancy Dubuc said:
“Our company invests heavily in finding fresh, unique voices and Broad Focus will inspire us to look deeper and in nontraditional places to discover women among those storytellers. I’m proud we are challenging ourselves and our friends in the industry to do more to support them.”
To put A + E’s investment in developing the careers of women into perspective, let’s take a look at some of the stats on women in the industry. While only 7 percent of the film and television industry’s works were directed by women, on Lifetime women directed 20 percent of films and shows. And if you compare the industry average of female writers, which is only at 11 percent, Lifetime’s average is 43 percent. The same goes for female executive producers—19 percent of executive producers in the industry are female, while at Lifetime 35 percent are female. So while there is still work to be done all around, this data speaks volumes to how the network prioritizes, recognizes and encourages the growth and success of women in its network.
A+E Networks doesn’t just talk about diversity, they put it into action. In their shows, in their staff, in their creative programming, and in their mission. Congratulations to A+E Networks for their outstanding work. We hope you can come celebrate their achievement at the Walter Kaitz Fundraising Dinner in New York City during Diversity Week on September 21st.
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