It is no secret that the media and entertainment industry has been plagued by a lack of equity, inclusion, and diversity. While some progress has been made, a lot still remains to be done. A recent report from consulting firm Deloitte outlines the biases, as well as corrections that the media and entertainment (M&E) industry can enact to make it a win-win for all parties.
The report, “Media Reimagined,” explores the vital role of equity in the M&E industry. it focuses specifically on content choice, monetization, user experience, and employee engagement. The report provides actionable steps to improve equity within the industry as consumer preferences evolve.
Deloitte has embraced the definition of equity “that acknowledges it as an outcome of consistent actions across representation, inclusion, and anti-oppression,” states the report.
According to its research, consumers spend between 50 and 60 hours per week engaging with at least one form of media. This is equivalent to one-third of their total time spent on social media, watching TV, or listening to music.
Despite this strong presence, Deloitte’s research found that only 1 in 4 people surveyed felt included in the M&E industry. By analyzing results, the survey found that “prioritizing and integrating equity as a guiding business principle will help M&E organizations stand out and have greater potential to lead the future of the industry.”
“Media and entertainment companies have room to improve when it comes to increasing representation, both within their company walls and through the media and content they produce,” said Wenny Katzenstein, managing director at Deloitte Consulting. “Technology has empowered audiences to make their preferences known, and companies have an imperative to make more equitable decisions to align with those preferences and drive better outcomes for business and society.”
A worrying statistic from the survey is that trust in the M&E industry “has fallen over the past few years, with a 12% decrease from 2021 to 2022 alone.” What’s even more scary is that in the U.S., “there are now more people who distrust the industry than who trust it—especially when it comes to operating with transparency and humanity.”
While nearly all demographic groups felt distrust, the biggest gap came from Black, Latinx, and LGBTQIA+ communities. These groups feel uniquely excluded, especially in the most relevant channels such as streaming, social, and gaming.
Trust in those channels leads to deeper engagement among the audience. And this highlights the importance of these media channels to be more inclusive and accessible.
Considering the three groups represent 36% of the industry’s total annual revenue, Deloitte estimated that around $250 billion in yearly revenue is specifically tied to these three historically underrepresented groups.
An increase in potential monthly spending on social media engagement, streaming TV and movies, live/streaming music, as well as watching and playing games would increase spending among the underrepresented communities.
But investment isn’t enough, according to the survey. Better interaction with the audience, as well as their inclusion in specific content, can significantly raise interest, loyalty, and spending in a brand.
The report also notes that “this approach is not solely engaging historically underrepresented audiences. In fact, over the next six to 12 months, the vast majority of Americans surveyed are looking to increase the amount of content they see from women creators (89%), racially diverse creators (85%), and LGBTQIA+ creators (80%).”
In addition to consumer trust, diversity, inclusivity and equity in the workplace are also important. The study found that “embracing anti-oppression ideals and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) policies and practices is now the second-most-important thing for surveyed M&E professionals at all levels.”
There still remains a large gap between the differing opinions of staff-level employees and management on inclusivity and equity within M&E companies. The level of satisfaction of staff was a lot lower than that of leadership when it comes to career succession planning, employee development, and retention, career paths, performance management, recruitment practices, equitable culture, and compensation.
Deloitte identified four areas of improvement. Business leaders need to work on improving key talent processes and eliminating both procedural and perceptual biases. They also need to set measurable and transparent targets to help their brand grow. More time and resources at all levels are necessary to empower people who work on creating and securing audiences. Finally, modeling personal accountability and responsibility where everyone feels included is key.
“These findings are not only critical to media and entertainment but also have a long tail impact for almost every industry,” said Stacy Kemp, principal at Deloitte Digital, Deloitte Consulting, and executive lead of Deloitte’s CMO Program. “It will take the collective power of the C-suite to eliminate outdated orthodoxies, set measurable and transparent goals for representation, and empower leaders at every level to own their microdecisions.”