Closing The Gap

Not just Hollywood: Workers across entertainment say Time's Up

Caroline Fairchild, Contributor
Spotlighting gender gaps in the entertainment business
Spotlighting gender gaps in the entertainment business

Roughly a year since stories of harassment and discrimination at work started to dominate the headlines, professionals in entertainment say the problems facing their industry are more pervasive than what you might think.

This reality surfaces in our survey, in partnership with CNBC's Closing The Gap series, on the state of gender in the entertainment industry. (The first LinkedIn-CNBC analysis, revealed in June, focused on the gap in the finance industry.) We received more than 1,000 responses from LinkedIn members working in entertainment and the motion picture/film industry in the U.S. Our questions tried to cover both the alleged problems as well as potential solutions, asking respondents to weigh in on if their careers have been impacted by the issues surfaced by the #MeToo and Time's Up movements and their ideas for how to make the industry more inclusive.

We then asked key influencers in the space — from Madeline DiNonno, CEO of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, to Dr. Stacy Smith, Director of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and Kirsten Schaffer, Executive Director of Women In Film — to weigh in on the issues and start a productive discussion.

In the charts below, you'll see that workers in front and behind the camera agree that discrimination and harassment remains top of mind for many women across the industry. And while many witness bad behavior, very few feel comfortable reporting it. When we asked respondents to suggest solutions for bias or lack of female leadership, a wide chasm emerged between not only how men and women view the problem but between those with more experience in the industry and those just starting out.

"These findings are a wake-up call to anyone in this industry who has yet to recognize the sustained effort necessary—up and down the ranks, in front of and behind the camera, in the C-suite, the mailroom and everywhere in between—to get issues of gender equity right," said Jeremy Zimmer, CEO of United Talent Agency. "Anyone with influence needs to commit to realizing the huge opportunity we all have when we strive toward and begin to realize gender equity."

We want to hear from you: Have ideas of your own on the state of diversity in entertainment? Join the series on LinkedIn with an article, post or video that includes #ClosingTheGap somewhere in the body.

Here are the results:

While discrimination isn't something people are seeing daily, everyone agrees that when it happens it's not always reported.

A little more than a third of women in entertainment have witnessed gender discrimination in the workplace, compared with roughly a quarter of males. Compared to other male-dominated industries, these numbers are worse: Only 28 percent of women and 16 percent of men working in finance have witnessed the same behavior, according to a LinkedIn survey conducted in June. Despite the prevalence of the problem and the growing discussion on the issues, 76 percent of women and 63 percent of men agree that women feel uncomfortable reporting harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

More than 100 LinkedIn members who took our survey shared their discrimination and harassment experiences with us through testimonials. One, a female production manager between 25 and 32 working in New Jersey, shared that she witnessed companies reluctant to hire new mothers. Another, a female intern from California under 24, shared that a colleague told her that he often had provocative dreams about her, and tried to play it off as a joke.

Actors and actresses are not the only ones to see harassment and discrimination in entertainment.

Our survey revealed that workers across the industry experience these issues. While about a third of creatives in the industry — actresses, artists, producers, etc. — had seen gender discrimination, about a quarter of professionals working in more office-type roles like agents, executives and marketers witnesses the same behavior. Women in business roles are slightly more comfortable reporting discrimination than their creative peers, but a majority of both still feel like it is challenging to call out abuse.

While both men and women agree there is a problem, they disagree on solutions.

When asked what solutions could help the entertainment industry become more inclusive to women, we saw a wide gap in responses between the genders. Women tended to focus on proactive solutions while men believed that more passive solutions would drive change. A female between 25 and 32 told LinkedIn that we need to focus on getting more women to pursue screenwriting. A male peer who also took the survey shared that he believed there wouldn't be change until consumers asked for more entertainment produced by and led by women.

The data demonstrated this as well: 68 percent of women – but only 48 percent of men — believe studios and production companies need to give female directors and writers more opportunities. Also, 30 percent of females believe the number of female movie critics needs to increase compared to 18 percent of males.

Increasing representation of women in roles of power remains a hot-button topic.

We also saw a wide chasm between how men and women feel about the impact of having more women in positions of leadership. While less than half of men think studios and production companies need to give female directors and writers more opportunities, nearly 70 percent of women do. We saw the same gap when it comes to movie critics, with less than 20 percent of men thinking that we need more women in those roles.

The attitudes of young men in entertainment signal hope for the future.

Interestingly, men between 25 and 32 were the most optimistic about the future for women leaders in entertainment. While only 33 percent of young females agree men and women are equally likely to become leaders in their industry, 54 percent of young males believe this to be true. Younger men also appear to be more aware of issues women may face in getting to the top: Almost one-third (29 percent) of young males strongly agree there are obstacles in place that make it challenging for women to advance compared to the 18 percent of older males.

While overall outlook is bright, mid-career women see the bleakest picture for the future.

Overall, 71 percent of survey respondents believe the entertainment industry will shift to more equal representation in the next ten year. Yet the women who have been in the industry longest are less bullish on how bright its future will be. While 78% percent of women 32 and under believe that the entertainment industry will shift towards more equal representation, only 62 percent of women 33 and older.

The situation is worse in entertainment than it is in other male-dominated industries like finance.

In June, we asked financial professionals a similar set of questions. While the outlook is bleak among finance workers when it comes to this topic, it is much worse in the world of entertainment. Three out of four men in finance believe that their female counterparts are paid the same whereas just over half of men in entertainment believe the same to be true. When asked if there are obstacles in place for women to succeed in their careers, entertainment professionals were much more likely to agree.

Methodology: The LinkedIn online member survey was conducted from September 18th to September 28th, 2018 with 1,010 professionals working in entertainment and motion picture and film in the United States. Respondents self-identified their gender and were invited on a random basis.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

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