Reducing Racial Inequality in Our Industry - A Letter from Our CEO

Dear members,

As an industry, we’re in a powerful position to shape people’s perception of the world. Who we see on our stages and screens and the stories that get told should always reflect our wider society.

At Spotlight, the recent Black Lives Matter movement has inspired us to continue to build on the initiatives we’ve been working on to improve inclusivity in our industry, by assessing how our team and our business can further address systemic issues of racial inequality. We recognise that the industry does not currently provide equal opportunities for Black and minority ethnic groups. And we know this needs to change. 

We’re very passionate about this as a company, and we’ve taken some time to think about how we can help to influence change in a positive way. 

You can find out more about what we’re doing to ensure our industry is more inclusive for a wide range of currently disadvantaged groups in our inclusivity statement

Here’s some of the work we’ve already done to help to address racial inequality: 

  • We’ve provided unconscious bias training sessions internally for our team, and at our 2019 Industry Forum event for our professional agent and casting director members. We’ll continue to roll out more sessions to ensure we help educate our industry and our team as much as possible. 
  • We already ask casting directors to confirm that any specifications outlined in a breakdown are specifically required for the role, and to actively consider whether the breakdown can be shared more widely. We will continue to do this and will also continue to advocate that casting directors actively seek to cast people from a wide range of backgrounds in their projects.
  • We have recently begun working with new performing arts schools who have a diverse makeup of students, as a way to open up more opportunities for performers of a range of backgrounds to enter the industry. We will continue to explore how we can do more to support new routes into the industry. 
  • While we always aim to represent a wide range of our membership in our imagery, events and content to ensure all voices and faces are seen, we know we can and will do more.
  • We sponsor and/or partner with a number of industry organisations with active outreach programmes targeting as many diverse backgrounds as possible, such as the National Youth Theatre and Open Door. We’ll continue to look for further opportunities to support similar programmes.
  • We have run events, such as 1-2-1s with casting directors, specifically for ethnic minority members to draw greater attention to performers of all backgrounds within the industry. We will do more in this area.
  • We have run a number of panel sessions specifically around diversity. Again, we can do more and be more explicit in our panel topics to address racial inequality in the future.
  • We’re providing a scholarship for the new casting diploma course at the National Film and Television School. The course is being launched to encourage diversity within the casting profession.

And, although the following changes will take some time, these are the additional areas we commit to actively work on:

  • We are actively reviewing our membership criteria and how we assess if someone meets the training and experience requirements to become a professional performer on Spotlight. We recognise that we can do more to support people from all backgrounds to enter the industry and diversifying our membership criteria is one of the ways we can help.
  • We will find initiatives that support a diverse range of talent to develop the skills and experience necessary to succeed in the industry, and actively support these. This support could range from financial contributions, to promotion and awareness, to providing guidance by experts in our team. 
  • How we onboard new agent and casting members at Spotlight, to ensure best practice in relation to representing and casting diverse talent. As well as seeking to provide training and resources to provide them and more established members with best practice around casting inclusively. 
  • To continue to work with organisations and professional bodies within our industry to ensure our values of diversity and inclusivity are aligned and promoted.
  • We are currently evaluating how best to address specific areas of our platform, engaging as always with experts in the industry, to determine the most appropriate terminology to use. We are also building our new systems in a way that allows us to be more flexible in the future, meaning that we can more easily adapt to reflect changes in society - something we haven’t been able to do as easily with our current platform. 
  • Reviewing and improving our recruitment methods for our Spotlight team. We want to help ensure that we redress the imbalance that minority groups face with accessing opportunities within the industry. We support the social mobility charity Talent Tap through work experience opportunities, but we want to do much more. While our team already includes people from across the globe, we will actively seek to find people from diverse backgrounds as part of our recruitment process, and work to ensure Spotlight and our management team is diverse. 
  • Setting up a new committee within the Spotlight team to help to manage the different initiatives and track our progress against these commitments. We will share our progress publicly and announce when changes have been implemented. 

We’ll continue to listen and learn, and regularly review our planned actions, to make sure we’re all moving forward in the best way possible. We’re always happy to hear from you, our members, if there’s anything else you believe we should take action on. Please email [email protected]

Thank you.

Richard Wilson, CEO

Published on Monday 22 June 2020.