Improving Diversity in the Animation Industry
The animation industry has made great advances in terms of diversity, with films like Coco, Moana, and Craig of the Creek (to mention just three) showing that diverse representation is both achievable and in demand. Despite this fact, there is a big gap in diversity in terms of employment. Avaaz Media reports, for instance, that women of color are grossly underrepresented in the industry, with only 1% working as story editors, 8% in animation direction, and 7% in lead character design. Indeed, these small percentages are visible in nearly all main roles in animation for both women of color and women as a whole. Clearly, change is necessary, with all companies in the industry needing to do more to provide truly safe and inclusive workplaces for minorities.
The Difference between Equality and Equity
To improve diversity in animation, both leading and small businesses need to consider equity vs equality. The difference between the two is that while quality seeks to provide equal resources for all, equity seeks to identify specific needs relating to demographics such as race, gender, gender identity, disabilities, ethnicity, and more. In industries such as animation, where a clear lack of diversity is identifiable, studios should take specific actions. The latter should include the undertaking of research into the experiences of minorities in the industry, internal investigations to identify discrimination, training current staff on how to be more aware of and avoidant of prejudices, commitment to hiring more women and POC, and more. Businesses wishing to be truly representative should also commit to providing more opportunities for minorities to study animation and enter the industry.
Addressing the Problems Identified by Minorities
The need to undertake internal investigations and conduct interviews and surveys is made patent by the 2019 report entitled Increasing Inclusion in Animation. The latter has shown that through this type of research, the major impediments facing minorities can be identified. The report focused specifically on women and it found that there is a culture of homophily that stops women from feeling like they belong and prevents them from moving forward professionally. Women report feeling less valued than their male colleagues and identify gender stereotypes as an obstacle.
Although the animation industry has made major strides in improving diversity, there is a long way to go until it becomes truly representative. Research indicates that groups such as women and women of color have major obstacles that their male counterparts do not. Studios must commit to sensitivity training, research, and a commitment to making the changes to offer equity as well as equality in their workspaces.