New Netflix Executive to Help Make Staff as Diverse as Its Users
(Bloomberg) -- Netflix Inc., which fired its chief spokesman last week for racially insensitive remarks, is overhauling its human-resources effort to build a workforce that looks more like its global customers: less male, more Latino and more black.
Netflix has hired an executive to lead its diversity and inclusion campaign after a monthslong search, according to the company, which declined to provide the name of the individual. The opening was listed on its website as recently as two weeks ago.
Like many of its Silicon Valley and Hollywood peers, Netflix employs a workforce that isn’t representative of the U.S. population, let alone its growing global customer base. Just one of the all-male executives taking part in quarterly earnings calls with investors is nonwhite.
Last week, the Los Gatos, California-based video-streaming giant fired its chief communications officer, Jonathan Friedland, for using a racial slur more than once in a work setting. Friedland first used the N-word in discussing appropriate speech, and again later with human-resources executives.
“We seek to be great at inclusion, across many dimensions, and these incidents show we are uneven at best,” Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings wrote in a memo explaining the Friedland firing to employees. “We have already started to engage outside experts to help us learn faster.”
The company’s diversity efforts predate those incidents. Netflix made inclusion a part of its corporate policies a couple years ago and has spent much of the past year revising its training across the company, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Earlier this year, the company started an initiative, called “Strong Black Lead,” to call attention to projects with African-Americans in key roles.
More recently, Netflix promoted its diversity efforts with a commercial during the BET Awards on June 24. The spot featured the stars and creators of “Luke Cage,” “Dear White People” and “She’s Gotta Have It,” among others.
The new executive isn’t charged with developing a single strategy to employ across the company, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing internal practices. Instead, the new hire will work with offices ranging from Sao Paulo to Mumbai to establish best practices in hiring and inclusion.
Netflix ranks last among 10 studios for the diversity of its film and TV directors, according to a study by the Directors Guild of America. Just 29 percent of the episodes on its service were directed by women or people of color, compared with an average of 38 percent across the industry. Most of the shows on Netflix are produced by other studios, so the study only included a fraction of the programs Netflix releases. And in the past month, two black development executives left the company, according to published reports.
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