Recruiting for inclusion when networking is the norm


This post is an excerpt from the Winter 2020 issue of The Corporate Citizen: Deliver Impact Globally.

The business case for making inclusion an essential part of the recruitment process is more important than ever as firms compete for top talent.

Recent labor trends suggest that highly skilled workers are in a position to choose where to direct their resumes and, more importantly, their talents. Companies can differentiate themselves by taking steps to make their workplaces—and their recruiting processes—more inclusive, such that candidates feel welcomed and encouraged to bring their full selves to work. Here we look at WarnerMedia, which has committed itself to building and embracing a diverse and inclusive workforce.

WarnerMedia, which includes brands such as HBO, Warner Bros., TNT, and TruTV, is a media and entertain­ment powerhouse committed to being “braver through purposeful storytelling, bolder by engaging with impact, and better by creating responsibly and sustainably.” Dedicated to its role as a visible corporate citizen, WarnerMedia is a dynamic and innovative leader within the inclusion and diversity landscape, as it has worked to increase access, raise awareness, and formalize opportunities so that its “content and creative partners reflect the diversity of our society and the world around us.”

To this end, in 2018, WarnerMedia released the industry’s first diversity and inclusion policy, pledging to involve writers, producers, and directors in its efforts to increase on-set and behind-the-scenes opportunities for individuals from under-represented backgrounds. Part of this renewed diversity and inclusion focus also manifested that same year as two prominent C-suite positions were filled: Christy Haubegger became the company’s executive vice president, chief enterprise inclusion officer, and Johnita Due was selected as senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer for WarnerMedia News and Sports.

By demonstrating that its diversity initiative is enter­prise-wide—from the top down—WarnerMedia joined an elite group of companies that have chief diversity officers. Research has found that companies are more likely to adopt a chief diversity officer position if they have long-term oriented leadership, competitors with a chief diversity officer, are focused on innovation, and/or have a diverse employee base. The presence of this C-suite role can also send a message to both external and internal stakeholders that a company is serious about its commitment to diversity.

WarnerMedia’s culture of inclusion is widespread and takes on distinct shapes at each of its renowned brands. For example, inclusion is fostered through programs at HBO, WarnerMedia (formerly Turner), and Warner Bros., which, with support from its nonprofit partner NOVAC, are designed to connect people from non-traditional backgrounds who haven’t had traditional pathways into the entertainment industry to paid, on-set production assistant (PA) positions, diversifying the pipeline of below-the-line talent.

HBO launched the first of these programs in 2016 with its Community Impact Below the Line Development Program. Since its inception, the program has placed more than 175 PAs on nearly all of HBO’s productions, including in cities across the globe such as Miami, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. WarnerMedia’s Access to Hollywood program has placed eight production assistants across six shows in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York in 2019 alone. And Warner Bros.’ Access to Action program, launched in 2017, has placed more than 70 PAs on 27 Warner Bros. TV and film productions in more than seven cities. The program’s goal is for these production assistants to transition to full-time positions.

“So often people have not had the opportunity to break into this industry without a connection, and it shouldn’t be that way,” said Kevin Fortson, executive vice president, production, Warner Horizon Television. “The need for content is exploding now, and the faces on-screen are diversified—the people who contribute behind the camera to create our content should be, too.”

As a media and entertainment company, the impact of WarnerMedia’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is one that is appropriately easy to see in action with a ripple effect that stands to be felt in offices, board­rooms, theaters, and living rooms across the country.

Read more in the Winter 2020 issue of The Corporate Citizen: Deliver Impact Globally.