An even bigger problem.
Production arguably has an even bigger diversity problem than the performers on stages they build and run. Women are a drastic minority across the board on most production crews, and BIPOC are vastly underrepresented in touring and technical roles.
(And spoiler alert: it’s not because we’re somehow physiologically less good at pushing buttons, road cases, or designing).
Whether you’re a Production Manager contracting vendors or a freelance contractor on a crew, there are plenty of ways you can start to turn the tide and make our production landscape more representative of our actual world.
What Can I Do?
Hold Up The Mirror.
Take a look at your crew. Who’s it made up of? How diverse is your hiring or contractor pool? Why or why not?
Check Your Culture.
If there are no women… why? If there are no BIPOC… why? If there are no queer people… why?
Take a closer look at the culture in and around your crew. Are there reasons that it might not be an appealing place for someone to work if they’re part of an under-represented group?
Implement a Code of Conduct, or otherwise set expectations for what appropriate behaviour is on your team. Homogenous environments can become hostile to people who are different in ways that are often unintentional or unnoticed by the dominant group.
- Bunch of white dudes standing around joking in FOB accents? Not going to be a welcoming space for someone from an immigrant family.
- Posters of ‘hot women’ around your work area? Not going to be particularly great sign for women on the team.
- Be explicit about who crew can talk to if they see or hear shitty behaviour that discriminates or alienates, and make it known that it’s not just ‘part of the job’.
- Hire proactively for better representation on your team; cast your net wide. We’re not in an industry where we can do ‘blind interviews’ but we can certainly say things like “I’m looking for a monitors tech and ideally I’d like to fill the role with a woman.”
- If you’re not finding candidates in your usual circles… make an effort to look outside those circles. Make yourself known to the communities you’re trying to reach by being visible and public about your intentions.
- Make it known to your peers and colleagues that you want to hire more diversely. Spread the word and you might be surprised at what comes back.
Engage Your Vendors & Suppliers.
Start the conversation with your vendors & suppliers about what your goals are for representation on your crews.
- Share with them why it’s important to you/your production to have a diverse team, and start asking them for staff who will help achieve this.
- Some examples of ways you can start this conversation are here.
- Consider using an Inclusion Clause with your suppliers and vendors.
- Make inclusive hiring and training practices a part of your preferred supplier requirements.
Support the Talent Pipeline.
Talent might legitimately be scarce out there, especially in technical roles (for example, SoundGirls estimates only 5% of audio engineers are women).
Lucky for us, that’s a problem we can all help solve.
- Get involved in mentoring or internship programmes that specifically target underrepresented groups.
- If you can’t provide work experience, you may be able to contribute in other ways – e.g. providing space, equipment, networking connections, etc.
If You're Not In A Hiring Position...
Never fear. If you’re on the receiving end of an offer, questions are your best friend.
- Depending on your situation, you may be able to ask “who else is on it?” before you accept the gig. This is a great opportunity to start a conversation with the person hiring about whether or not you want to work on a team with poor representation.
- If you know other great crew who will help balance out the team, put them forward and advocate.
- Ask if there is a Code of Conduct, or if there are any plans to implement one – this is a way to gauge how considered the production is about sfer and more inclusive workplaces.
BROACH THE PRICKLY TOPICS
Get a solid understanding of the issues and some helpful language to start the conversations.
PUT IT IN THE CONTRACT
Use an Inclusivity Clause with your vendors and suppliers.
Check out, or add yourself to, diverse crew databases.
CHECK YOUR CULTURE
Start by making your workplace somewhere that everyone wants to work regardless of their sexuality, gender or skin colour.
LEARN ABOUT THE ISSUE
Get a handle on the difference between ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’, find out why representation matters, and more.