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18


STRONGERTOGETHER


CLICK this icon for video LEADING THE DIVERSITY CHARGE


Jamila Daniel, SVP of human resources at Starz, and chief diversity offi cer for Lionsgate, is heading up a strategy to realise structural and sustainable change across the organisation. She tells IBC how company-wide initiatives are working and how the wider industry can benefi t from diversity, equity and inclusion


BY MICHAEL BURNS


“We want to be an inspiration and a model for the rest of the industry, showing you can be successful, that you can have a path to inclusion and representation within the creative space, and still thrive as a business,” says Jamila Daniel. “Diversity equals high performance, better creativity and innovation. It’s not just the smart thing to do, it’s also the right thing to do. And it does start with who’s in the room and who’s making the decisions.” As senior vice president of human resources for Starz, Daniel consults with business unit management to strategically plan and process the development of HR strategies that support the company goals for its employees. As chief diversity offi cer for Lionsgate, she is responsible for partnering with the company’s leadership team to bring organisational changes in policy and culture for a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Daniel takes a systematic approach to achieving this. “What systems are currently in place that create barriers to entry to access to opportunity?” she asks. “How do we break those down and put in new systems that lend themselves towards diversity, equity and inclusion?”


Daniel: “We have to break down old systems that maintain the status quo” GETTING ON BOARD


At Lionsgate and Starz this equates to looking at recruitment, hiring, staff development, leadership opportunities, partnerships, procurement and how the organisation interacts with the community. “We know that we have to break down old systems that maintain the status quo and create a new dynamic that will encourage and allow diversity to thrive and be sustainable,” she says. “We have an inclusive hiring process at Lionsgate and Starz. We make sure that our job descriptions are gender-neutral. We have consistent questions that we ask all candidates so that we’re comparing apples to apples. We have hiring manager training to make sure they know how to interview properly and are trained on cultural sensitivities.” Meanwhile, interview panels offer a cross-section of perspectives and opinions about a candidate. “Starting last December, we did a pilot programme and


rolled it out,” Daniel explains. “In a short amount of time, we had great success in terms of fi nding diversity of candidates, presenting them and fi nding the best talent for our open positions.”


The supply chain is also being considered, with the goal of doubling spend with diverse suppliers within a year. “So far we’re on track,” says Daniel. “We formed a supplier diversity committee within the organisation, consisting of procurement decision-makers in each of our divisions. We come together regularly, we highlight and help diverse suppliers get certifi ed.” “We also partner with outside diverse organisations, to make sure that we are tapping into those pipelines from historically excluded groups,” she continues. “We look at our philanthropy, where we spend our dollars, where we are spending our time.”


That partnership also extends internationally. “We’re just


beginning DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) work with the UK offi ce we have as part of Lionsgate. October was Black History Month in the UK and so the offi ce partnered with Black Business Week to sponsor their programming for the month.”


“[Diversity starts] with who’s in the room and who’s making the decisions,” Jamila Daniel, Starz


DIVERSITY IN CONTENT


“Our vision is for narratives by and for women and under- represented audiences,” states Daniel. “We have recently partnered with the Alliance of Women Directors (AWD) to hire women directors to work on our shows. We know that representation in front of, and behind, the camera matters. We recently did a study with UCLA that showed we are at the forefront in terms of having that representation and inclusion.”


Daniel says diversity is already represented across the Starz slate. “We could start with Blind Spotting, a female-centric show about family and all kinds of social issues: mental health, mass incarceration, poverty, the criminal justice system; it touches on all these serious subjects, but in such a creative way,” she enthuses. “That’s a prime example of a show you’re able to get when you bring diversity into the room.”


Another show is P-Valley. “This is about a strip club in the Deep South [of the US],” says Daniel. “The way that Katori Hall, the showrunner/creator, tells the story is just so moving, it gives us a slice of life that we would never see, but that we


can relate to in many ways. It’s great storytelling and again, it shows the power of different lived experiences and how it can resonate with a global audience.” A big piece of the work that Daniel is doing is through education: training, webinars and seminars for the company, as well as educating the industry with transparency talks around DEI. “I think education is a big component of getting people’s buy-in, understanding and willingness to do the work,” she says. Starz doesn’t just teach diversity though. “As far as the executive leadership team reporting into [CEO] Jeff Hirsch goes, 75% are women, and of those 50% are women of colour,” says Daniel. “We need that diversity at those decision-making levels and positions within the organisation, that is really how things get changed. When you have a homogenous leadership team, a lot of times that can lead to homogenous decisions and more of the same, so let’s shake it up. Let’s make sure that we’re hearing and having perspectives in the room that can speak to different experiences.” “We had a very concrete goal with the supplier diversity


programme and plan to scale that in years to come,” adds Daniel. “The ultimate goal for us is for our workplace and our content to represent the world that we live in. That comes in so many different ways, whether it’s gender, sexuality, race, religion, age, neurodiversity or ability. We want to make sure that we are representative of our employees of the global audiences that we serve.”


Watch the full interview – Creating a more diverse workforce with Starz’s Jamila Daniel – on IBC Digital


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