First Netflix Diversity Report Shows Gains for Women, Minorities
Promotional images of Netflix Inc. programs are displayed on a wall at the Netflix Japan office in Tokyo, Japan. (Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg)

First Netflix Diversity Report Shows Gains for Women, Minorities

Netflix Inc. has made gains in adding women and minorities to its workforce over the past three years, vaulting it past Silicon Valley peers, according to the entertainment company’s first-ever report on diversity and inclusion.

Women made up 47% of its workforce in 2020, up from 40% in 2017, and the company said it made similar-sized gains in adding female employees to leadership and technical positions. Women still account for under 35% of technical jobs, though.

Netflix also said that 8% of its employees at the end of 2020 were Black, more than double the share from the end of 2017. Hispanic employees climbed to 8.1% from 6%, the company said, which tracks race and ethnicity data for the U.S. only. Its gender data, by contrast, is global.

Large corporations have prioritized diversity in recent years — especially in the entertainment and tech industries — both in response to societal pressure and to improve their business performance. Netflix is making shows for people in 190 countries and has touted its programs as bringing cultures together. But to tell stories from all perspectives, it needs employees who come from a wide range of backgrounds.

Tech companies have come under particular scrutiny for being disproportionately male, White and Asian. While that remains the case at Netflix, women make up a larger share of its global workforce than at Facebook Inc., Apple Inc. or Google parent Alphabet Inc. Netflix also has a higher percentage of Black and Hispanic employees than Google or Facebook. (Apple exceeds Netflix with its share of both Black and Hispanic employees.)

Overall, Netflix’s employee ranks have swelled in recent years, driven by subscriber growth around the world and insatiable demand for streaming content. The company, which is run from offices in Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, had more than 8,000 full-time streaming employees in 2020, up from fewer than 3,400 in 2017.

“The company made the commitment that everyone would be responsible for inclusion,” said Verna Myers, who joined Netflix in 2018 as its head of diversity and inclusion. “It’s not perfect, but it is far better than most technology companies.”

Although entertainment companies haven’t issued annual inclusion reports that mirror those in Silicon Valley, Netflix appears to be trailing the diversity efforts of its peers in Hollywood, by some measures. The U.S. motion-picture and sound-recording industries were 13% Black and 19.3% Hispanic in 2018, according to the most recent figures from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The movie and TV industry has faced a reckoning in recent years over its lack of diversity, with many top executives resigning due to allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination.

While Hollywood studios make movies and TV shows that affect how we all see the world, just about every major entertainment company is led by White men, Netflix included. Senior managers in the movie and recording industries were only 3.6% Black and 5.1% Hispanic in 2018, according to the EEOC. White men also make up a disproportionate number of directors, writers and stars of movies and TV shows, according to reports from the University of Southern California.

Netflix has more control over its own staff than it does over writers and actors it works with, but the company has struck a series of deals with prominent Black producers in recent years, including Shonda Rhimes, Kenya Barris and Kevin Hart.

“We’re going to bring in creators from lots of different experiences, especially groups that have bee underrepresented, and we’re going to get the benefit of that creativity,” Myers said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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