DGA Diversity - Frequently Asked Questions

Why does the DGA believe that hiring of more women and minority Directors is critical?

At the DGA, we believe storytelling should be as diverse as the world around us, and that a critical mass of different perspectives on screen is vital for the wellbeing and development of society. We’re committed to realizing the vision of a diverse and inclusive industry, and have worked toward this goal for decades.

The origins of the DGA’s diversity efforts date back to the late 1970s, when a group of women Directors mobilized to address the troubling hiring practices of entertainment industry employers through the formation of the Women’s Steering Committee.

For many years after the formation of the Women’s Steering Committee (1979), and the Ethnic Minority Committee, (founded in 1980, and re-titled the African American Steering Committee in 1994), employers made improvements in their hiring practices – but that improvement has stagnated. In fact, the data on working Directors across film and television today reveals the contrast between current industry hiring practices and prior progress. In an industry driven by relationships, word-of-mouth hiring practices, and an established way of doing business, there’s a long way to go before a truly diverse, inclusive workforce is realized.

For an in-depth look at the DGA’s diversity history, visit here.
 

What is the DGA’s role in the hiring of Directors?

The DGA does not hire Directors – those decisions are made by employers: studios, networks and producers. Since its inception, the DGA’s mission has been to protect the creative and economic rights of our members, and maintain the standards of the profession.

What is the demographic breakdown of the DGA’s membership? Why doesn’t the Guild admit more women and minorities?

Like any labor organization, we are a reflection of the employers’ hiring practices. The DGA represents Directors and members of the directorial team (Unit Production Managers, Assistant Directors, Associate Directors, Stage Managers and Production Associates). Eligibility for membership is generally based on who employers hire.  The more women and ethnic minorities are hired to work in DGA-covered capacities, the more women and ethnic minorities will become new DGA members.

 

Percentage of All DGA Members (including directorial team)

Percentage of Director Members

Women

23.0%

14.3%

African Americans

4.3%

3.6%

Latinos

3.2%

2.8%

Asian Americans

2.3%

2.1%

Native Americans

0.3%

0.2%

* Data current as of August 2016

What is the DGA doing to increase the hiring of women and ethnic minority members?

We seek to wield our influence and utilize our collective bargaining power, relationships and resources to try to change industry practices. Currently, we employ a four-pronged approach to advance the issue: (1) engage with industry decision-makers; (2) negotiate with employers; (3) develop networking, career enhancement and training opportunities; and (4) report back to the industry.

1. Engage with Industry Decision-Makers

The DGA holds meetings with studios, production companies, and individual shows specifically to address diversity in hiring. At these meetings, the DGA presents employment statistics that bring non-diverse hiring practices into stark relief. Additionally, to further dispel the myth that there aren’t any women or minority Directors available for hire, the DGA provides customized member contact reports to employers at their request, and defined by their specific criteria. A searchable member database with filter options to search for women and ethnic minority members is also available online. While not every meeting has resulted in improved diversity, we’re pleased to see that many shows have made measurable progress.

2. Negotiate with Employers

The DGA’s collective bargaining agreements include the most robust, comprehensive and enforceable diversity provisions of all the entertainment industry guilds and unions.

Since 1981, we’ve pushed for diversity-related provisions during collective bargaining with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) – and gains were hard fought. That year, we secured agreement from employers that they would make efforts to improve diverse hiring practices. In 2002, we secured commitment to annual diversity meetings with signatory companies. In 2008, employers agreed to commit substantial resources to increase the employment of both experienced and emerging women and minority Directors in television. In 2011, we established the right to meet with executives responsible for hiring episodic Directors at the individual series level.

In 2014, we achieved an industry first: agreement from each of the major television studios to maintain or establish a Television Director Development program focused on diversity – complete with enforceable provisions. Additionally, we secured the establishment of an industry-wide Joint Diversity Action Committee to meet every four months to address industry-wide diversity issues.

It should be noted that the DGA does not negotiate with itself. We bargain with all the major studios, networks and the industry, and many of our proposals are not met with agreement.

We’re also monitoring the studios and networks to ensure that they comply with these new and existing contractual obligations.

3. Develop Networking, Career Enhancement and Training Opportunities

The DGA’s Women’s, Latino, Asian American, African American and Eastern Diversity Committees, and Eastern Focus on Women Sub-Committee: hold networking events with producers, networks, and studio representatives to introduce Directors to key decision-makers; program educational seminars; and organize tribute events to highlight the excellent work being done by women and ethnically diverse Directors.  For more information on the events held by each committee, please visit their individual webpages.

4. Report Back to the Industry

We also put pressure on the industry and have brought attention to the issue through the publication of highly publicized data reports rich with statistics reflecting current industry hiring trends. In these reports, we call public attention to the worst of the worst shows when it comes to diverse hiring practices, as well as the best of the best.  Our most recent reports have garnered significant media attention, they include:

  • An annual study analyzing the ethnicity and gender of television Directors.

  • A seven-year analysis of the gender and ethnic diversity of first-time Directors on scripted series.

Is it true that you share “hiring lists” of women and diverse Directors with employers?

The DGA never makes hiring recommendations.

As a resource for employers, and in an effort to broaden the hiring pool, we provide a searchable online member database with filter options to search for women and ethnic minority members. Additionally, at an employer’s request, the DGA’s current practice is to provide customized member reports defined by the employer’s specific criteria.

The DGA’s practice outlined above has evolved to this custom process. Formerly, the DGA provided contact information of all the Guild’s women and ethnic minority members – a list of thousands of members. In response to feedback from employers that these broad reports were not helpful for their needs, the DGA began creating the custom reports. To increase employer awareness of the service, the DGA in the past provided sample reports of all women and ethnic minority Directors who directed at least one television episode in the last five years. Those five-year contact reports included more than 300 members, approximately 60% of whom were women Directors.

What are the DGA’s contract requirements on diversity?

The DGA’s collective bargaining agreement with the AMPTP requires that:

  • Signatory companies work diligently and make good faith efforts to increase the number of working racial and ethnic minority and women Directors and members of the directing team;

  • The DGA conducts annual diversity meetings with signatory companies. Additionally, the DGA is the only entertainment Guild or union that has the right to hold episodic series-level diversity meetings with hiring managers;

  • Signatory companies provide reports of employee gender and ethnicity;

  • The DGA’s television studio signatory companies develop and maintain Television Director Development programs focused on diversity.

Do the DGA’s diversity efforts apply equally to women and minority members?

Women and ethnic minorities are not an “either/or” proposition – not in our contracts, not in our data reporting and not in our meetings with employers.  

There is a misperception that DGA contracts allow studios to fulfill all their “diversity obligations” by hiring minority males. This is not true. Our contracts call on employers to “increase the number of working racial and ethnic minority and women Directors.” The same requirement applies to members of the directorial team.  There is nothing “either/or” in our contract, and no implication that hiring minority men releases employers from their responsibility to hire more women.

Separately, the DGA releases annual episodic television Director diversity reports that break down the data for both women and minorities. We also have Women’s Committees – on both the west and east coasts – that focus specifically on issues related to women Directors and members of the directorial team.  

Is the DGA frustrated that diverse hiring continues to be flat across the industry?

Yes, it’s an issue the Guild has been fighting for since the Women’s Steering Committee got the ball rolling in 1979. In 1983, the DGA sued Warner Bros. and Columbia Pictures on behalf of women and minority members. Although the suit was dismissed in 1985, there was improvement for some time thereafter – but that has stagnated. Ever since, the DGA has continued to devote significant time and resources to the issue. The fact that the many industry programs to encourage a more diverse workforce have not achieved their desired goals speaks volumes about how deeply entrenched gender and racial bias are across an industry driven by fragmented, relationship-driven and word-of-mouth hiring practices. We continue to approach this matter from a number of angles to convince employers to take ownership of the issue. Until that happens, there may never be substantive change.

Contact
Lily Bedrossian
Director of Media Relations
(310) 289-5334
lbedrossian@dga.org
The Good Fight

Over the past 30 years, Guild diversity committees have advanced the cause of women and minority members.