Academy Reaffirms Diversity Commitment After Black Executives’ Departure (EXCLUSIVE)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has addressed the recent departure of multiple Black executives from its organization in a letter sent to its members. The letter, signed by Academy CEO Bill Kramer and president Janet Yang, reaffirms the organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion programs and emphasizes its efforts to expand these initiatives.

The letter acknowledges the concerns raised by the departure of several Black executives in Hollywood, including within the Academy itself. It states that the Academy is committed to not only continuing but also expanding its efforts to promote diversity and inclusion within the organization and the film industry as a whole.

In recent months, at least four Black leaders have left the Academy for various reasons. This includes chief operations officer Christine Simmons, vice president Patrick Harrison, vice president of impact and inclusion Jeanell English, and executive vice president Shawn Finnie. The departure of these executives has drawn attention and raised questions about the Academy’s commitment to diversity.

The controversy surrounding the Academy’s diversity efforts also extends to the appointment of Meredith Shea as chief membership, impact, and industry officer. While Shea is responsible for leading diversity efforts, a study by Zippia reveals that 76% of chief diversity officers across all professional disciplines are white.

In response to these concerns, Kramer and Yang highlight the diversity within the Academy’s leadership team. They note that 71% of executives at or above the vice president level are women, and 42% are from underrepresented ethnic or racial communities. However, it is worth noting that the Academy does not have any Black or Latino C-suite staff beyond the Academy Museum.

The Academy has taken steps to address the lack of representation on its website, particularly among its listed leaders. Following a Variety story reporting on the mass exodus of Black executives from movie studios, the Academy updated its website to include executive VPs who report to Kramer. Notably, this includes Yolanda Enamorado and Jenny Galante, who are both BIPOC team members. However, the Academy still lacks Black or Latino C-suite staff members beyond the Academy Museum.

The departure of Black executives from studios and organizations has raised concerns about diversity in the industry. Franklin Leonard, founder of the BlackList, emphasizes the importance of publishing diversity numbers for the organization as a whole, rather than just new members. This highlights the need for transparency and accountability in promoting diversity and inclusion.

The letter concludes by outlining the Academy’s ongoing efforts to promote diversity and inclusion. These include expanding employee resource groups, evolving DEAI-focused recruiting and hiring initiatives, and growing the People and Culture Department. The Academy also mentions its talent development programs, inclusion standards, membership guidance program, and diverse exhibitions and screenings at the Academy Museum.

The Academy acknowledges that its DEAI-focused work is a continuous journey that requires sustained attention, commitment, and resources. It expresses its commitment to finding additional ways to accomplish these efforts and thanks its members for their support.

In conclusion, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has addressed the departure of multiple Black executives in a letter to its members. The letter reaffirms the Academy’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and outlines its ongoing efforts to promote these values within the organization and the film industry. While challenges remain, the Academy expresses its dedication to the process and its gratitude for the support of its members.

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