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Why #OscarsSoWhite isn’t just about the film industry

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26th January 2016


Next month on February 28th 2016 the 88th Academy Awards will take place, and this year there has been much criticism and furore into the fact that for the second year running, of the 20 acting nominations- all of them have been for white actors.  This diversity row has resulted in the on-line campaign #OscarsSoWhite, with several actors deciding to boycott the ceremony and the President of the Academy writing an open letter about how “heartbroken and frustrated” she is at the lack of diversity.

Subsequently the governing body of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which is the board officiating the Oscars, made a statement stating that its goal was “to commit to doubling the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020”. These changes will also include 10-year limits on the voting abilities of new members of the Academy, which will be removed if the member is not “active in motion pictures” in the intervening time.

The Academy Awards and the public discourse about them has brought the conversation to the table about implicit bias and the role it plays in what films get made, by whom and the extent to which women and BAME individuals get awarded for their roles in film.

Reading all of the press reports written over the past weeks and following the debate which has played out on the world media stage exactly mirrors what happens daily within the corporate world, in recruitment and search functions, where diverse candidates continually face unconscious bias from those within the recruitment process and a lack of diverse interviewing panels when applying and interviewing for roles. Not unlike the Academy and their recent statement of intent, the UK Government has been urged by Chuka Umunna, the Labour MP and former shadow business secretary to “set a target for ethnic minority representation on FTSE 100 boards to be met by 2020″ following the report in 2015 which highlighted how less than 2% of British directors from FTSE 150 companies are black, Asian or minority ethnic.

Throughout the search process, Audeliss is 100% committed to providing our clients with a concise list of exceptional and diverse talent. Ultimately, we believe it is about the right person for the job, however it is also important that the widest possible net is cast for discovering diverse talent pools and opportunities are presented for all individuals to compete on a level playing field for their chosen career.

We work closely with our clients to ensure that, as the long-listed candidates are sifted through and the focusing of the search process is carried out, where possible, unconscious bias can be challenged and the skills of the candidate are continually matched, different individuals have an opinion into the process- not just the hiring manager, and perhaps those who may not seem an obvious choice are still considered.

Perhaps if the Academy reviewed its nomination process and those judging the criteria, this would allow for a greater diversity of thought around those selected for award nomination. Diversity is far wider than simple demographics such as gender and ethnicity, it is also related to informational differences such as education, experience value and goals.  Research has clearly proven that informational diversity stirs constructive conflict, or debate, around the task at hand and the outcome is that people deliberate about the best course of action.

The Audeliss team is proud to be 100% diverse and our diversity of thought has resulted in 65% of our appointments since 2011 being diverse candidates. We realise that, like others, we still have a long road ahead to increase those numbers, however we are committed to our diversity journey and supporting our clients in developing their own inclusive organisations.

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