Why does society continue to overlook diverse work?

"We're certainly making progress in identifying the problem, creating a solution and executing on it - but it only works if we bring active allies with us."

Are We There Yet?
Dyllan McGee
Founder and Executive Producer
MAKERS, Verizon Media

Tell us about one thing that's happened recently that leads you to believe that there's still a problem? 

Too often we become accustomed to the norms and narratives that remain largely unchanged overtime, regardless of their merit or authenticity. For example, society continues to overlook diverse work, no matter what industry, title or location. 

We saw this most recently with the 92nd Academy Award nominations, which declared an all-male roster for the Best Director category. It’s especially disappointing because an increasing number of women have challenged the status quo and made their mark in the creative & film space, which has long been dictated by men.

Women and non-binary individuals are working against all odds and still succeeding within the creative world. In 2019, women directed more of the most popular films than any year before, according to a new study just released by USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. Yet, society continues to omit us from the narrative and leaves us out of the race.

How about something that proves we're making progress?

Like I mentioned, last year more than 10 percent of people who directed the top 100 grossing films in the U.S. were women -- the highest number in over a decade and more than twice as many as the year before.

We’re gradually manifesting change within our industry, which proves that our voices, stories and creativity are making a difference. By celebrating the achievements of female creators everywhere and giving them a platform to raise their voices, we can change the narrative and norms we’ve become accustomed to. 

Or look to last month’s Jobs Report; the number of women in the workforce overtook that of men for the first time in almost a decade!

Last year on The MAKERS Conference 2019 stage, Jennifer Garner spoke to then TIME’S UP President & CEO, Lisa Borders, about moving the needle on women’s equality and redesigning the world so women have equal opportunities as men. Borders asked Garner to take part in the 4% Challenge, a campaign launched by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and TIME’S UP, calling on industry leaders to commit to announcing one project with a female director in the next 18 months. While on-stage, Garner realized she was already putting this mandate into practice without any public broadcast or persuasion. This proves progress; we’re acknowledging that women sit as a disenfranchised class and acting on it. 

What else needs to be done to get there?

We ask ourselves this everyday! We’ve made progress yes, but we are not there yet. In fact, "NOT DONE" is the theme for this year’s MAKERS Conference. It’s a rallying cry for the progress that still needs to be made toward real equality. 

Inspired by the suffragettes and passing of the 19th Amendment 100 years ago, juxtaposed against the work that’s still left to be done in 2020, "NOT DONE" encompasses what’s next in the women’s movement. At The MAKERS Conference this week, we’ll spotlight issues including: intersectionality, microaggressions in the workplace, representation in Hollywood, women in sports and climate crisis, as we embark on a year-long campaign celebrating women today, a century after getting the right to vote. As MAKERS is part of the Verizon Media ecosystem, we’re able to amplify our storytelling platform, connect with a massive audience, and continue this much-needed dialogue around the women’s movement. 

We’re certainly making progress in identifying the problem, creating a solution and executing on it - but it only works if we bring active allies with us.

While we all do our best to be allies to marginalized groups, we need to better educate ourselves on how to be active allies where we constantly learn and improve how to stand up and show up for others. "Supporting equality" is not enough because it’s about action not intention -- speak up for others, amplify diverse voices, recognize your blindspots and learn how to fix them. In doing so, it creates a ripple effect that encourages more and more people in power to sponsor those that don't have as loud of a voice because of their race, religion, age, gender, sexuality or financial status. 

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