WGAW Report on 2017-18 TV Staffing Season Looks Grim

There’s more going on in TV and film writer land than the WGA getting tough with literary agents who package their own TV shows. There’s also this interesting study about the state of employment diversity for Hollywood writers:


Writers Guild of America West Issues Inclusion Report Card for 2017-18 TV Staffing Season
via WGAW

As part of its ongoing efforts to call attention to discrimination and promote diversity in the entertainment industry, the Writers Guild of America West has released its first Inclusion Report Card for the 2017-18 TV staffing season.

Based on WGAW employment data, the report card finds that systematic discrimination against writers from historically underrepresented groups – including women, people of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+, and people over age 50 – remains pervasive in the hiring of television writers.

The Guild hopes the report card will have a positive impact on increased hiring of diverse writers for the current TV staffing season. Key findings include:

  • During the 2017-18 TV staffing season, writers were hired for 2,985 jobs in television, across network, cable, and streaming platforms.
  • Women and persons of color remain underrepresented relative to their percentages in the overall U.S. population, and discrimination worsens at upper employment levels. On writing staffs, persons of color are mostly concentrated at lower levels. In 2018, only 24% of TV showrunner roles were held by women – and only 12% were held by persons of color.
  • Disabled writers face even more profound discrimination: Despite the fact that 56.7 million Americans identify as disabled, writers with disabilities make up less than 1% of employed TV writers.
  • While data on LGBTQ+ writers is based on self-identification, numerous LGBTQ+ writers report being told by agents and studio executives that they “don’t count as diverse.” The WGAW maintains that LGBTQ+ writers are, without question, members of a historically underrepresented group who are still fighting for equal rights and continue to face hiring discrimination in the entertainment industry and around the world.
  • Writers over 50 face the same ageism in TV staffing that pervades all of Hollywood – and the near-total absence of staff writers over 50 is clear evidence of systemic age discrimination.
  • Discrimination does not end with hiring: According to the independent Think Tank for Inclusion and Equity’s report, 64% of writers from historically underrepresented groups reported bias, discrimination, and/or harassment in the workplace.
  • There is some evidence of progress: As writer employment on TV series has doubled over the last decade, women have increased from 30% to 35% of the work force, while persons of color have increased their share from 17% to 27%.

The report card shows that the entertainment industry’s problems are far from solved. To remedy the issue and achieve real change, the Guild urges “all studios and showrunners to continue being part of the solution by improving upon 2018’s numbers in the 2019 TV staffing season. With honesty, accountability, and continued effort, we can end unfair discrimination against writers and increase inclusion and equality across our industry.”

To read the full Inclusion Report Card, click here.

Writers from historically underrepresented groups can be found using the WGAW’s Find a Writerdirectory as an industry hiring resource.

The Inclusion Report Card comes from the WGAW’s Inclusion and Equity Group, which spearheads WGAW efforts to educate industry professionals and champion hiring practices that will create an entertainment industry that directly reflects the nation’s diverse voices.

The WGAW’s Inclusion and Equity Group is comprised of Guild members, including Co-Chairs Glen Mazzara and Shonda Rhimes, as well as Doug Atchison, Leo Chu, Jennifer Crittenden, Eric Garcia, Terri Kopp, Aimee Lagos, LaToya Morgan, Margaret Nagle, Shireen Razack, Ari B. Rubin, Melissa Rosenberg, Allison Schroeder, David Slack, and Ligiah Villalobos.

The Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) is a labor union representing writers of motion pictures, television, radio, and Internet programming, including news and documentaries. Founded in 1933, the Guild negotiates and administers contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of its members. It is involved in a wide range of programs that advance the interests of writers, and is active in public policy and legislative matters on the local, national, and international levels. For more information on the WGAW, please visit: www.wga.org.