Hollywood Had A ‘Secret Meeting’ To Address Gender Inequity

I’ve written before about the Secret Feminist Meetings, in which all feminists around the world convene in an underground bunker to agree about everything, then burn our bras and craft elaborate plots. Apparently Hollywood’s feminists are ready to let the secret out: Deadline is reporting on a recent “secret two-day meeting,” in which “44 top Hollywood movers and shakers” — among them Maria Bello, Jenji Kohan, Catherine Hardwicke, and Lionsgate’s Erik Feig — have “come up with a four-point plan ‘for solving the gender parity issue that plagues Hollywood.’ ” The meeting, held in mid-October, but “only now coming to light” (the language throughout Deadline’s post is particularly dramatic, as is appropriate for such a covert affair) was hosted by Women in Film and the Sundance Institute at the Pacific Design Center in L.A.

Outside of deciding to egg the houses (pun intended!!) of every MRA in America, the group came out of the meeting with four separate ways to combat the gender inequity that both the media and said “movers and shakers” (including OG advocate Geena Davis, who, strangely, wasn’t present), have been publicly discussing for many months. Deadline explains that they came to these particular plans of attack after “reviewing the obstacles women face in Hollywood, as identified by four years of research conducted by the Sundance Institute/Women in Film Los Angeles and the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism.” Here they are, in full:

  • Advocate “Unconscious Bias” training across the industry. Leaders in other businesses have determined that unconscious bias creates blind spots and leads to missed market opportunities, and also hinders access to valuable consumer segments limiting profits. Creating more content for women and people of color is not only about equality; it also makes good business sense. An expert Unconscious Bias educator will be selected to work with executives and creatives across the industry.
  • Develop and launch a Gender Parity Stamp to recognize films and television shows — as well as production companies, networks and studios — that show measurable progress to achieving gender equity. Mirrored on the successful work by LGBT advocates and the PGA’s producer mark, this recognition for positive progress will be a visible identifier for companies that have prioritized equal gender hiring practice and have financed or supported business opportunities for women in front of and behind the camera.
  • Sponsor/Protégé Program. This high-level pilot program will identify talented early-to-mid career female film and TV directors for a year-long training and fellowship program, and pair them with advocates across the industry who will actively help them move to the next level. While many individual companies have training programs, this unique program will enable the protégé to work across different networks, studios and agencies. With the support and participation of executives across the industry, this program will highlight women selected by a panel of leaders and assure they have the tools, relationships, and exposure to launch and sustain their careers.
  • Ambassadors from the industry leaders at the meeting will spread the word about the solutions to studios, networks and agencies. Crucially, the participants have committed to staying involved in the project and will enlist an ever-growing group of advocates to work inside their organizations on articulating the business case for making changes in culture and practices to hire more women and people of color.

Whether these specific, no-longer-secret plots will actually incite change remains to be seen. But it’s particularly heartening to see leaders in Hollywood taking real action, rather than just talking about it. As Cathy Schulman, president of Women in Film L.A. put it, “We are at an economic, social and cultural tipping point and sustainable change is within reach. The time to act is now. Hollywood is surprisingly late in coming to this party and this is the time for conversion.”