This past Saturday I went to one of those Women's Steering Committee meetings at the DGA. To be honest, after the first meeting I went to a few months ago, I swore I would never go again. It just seemed weird and kind of upside-down. The people with the most intelligent things to say were bullied into silence, and the bullies were applauded. One fairly prominent female director actually stated several times in a row: "Let me make this very clear: I am not here as one of you. I am one of the boys, okay?"
Don't ask me to explain it. I still don't understand it. It was surreal, to put it mildly.
But when it was announced that our new DGA president Paris Barclay, National Executive Director Jay Roth and Western Executive Director Bryan Unger would attend the next meeting to inform us how the negotiations with the studios went and what they had achieved in regards to diversity hiring, I had to go.
Also, I do have the sticker on my fridge about "being the change you want to see in the world."
Here are the points of the negotiation they shared with us:
1) The number of female directors working in film or TV has decreased and everybody finds this abysmal number embarrassing.
2) There were heated arguments about who's responsible. The studio tried to put the blame on the DGA and its own small number of female members, but the negotiation committee reminded the executives that a woman can only become eligible to join the guild if she gets hired by a signatory company.
3) A Warner executive stated, "I am not embarrassed about what my company does, but I am frustrated by the lack of progress when it comes to gender equality."
4) TV continues to hire 80% white males. The number of first-time directors breaking into TV is actually acceptable. Unfortunately, it's only white males who do it.
5) The hiring process or the qualifications/skill-set needed to book an episode cannot be defined. (Is there an animated "jerking off" emoji?)
6) Shonda Rhimes gets it.
7) CBS doesn't.
8) It was decided during the negotiations to change the wording regarding diversity hiring from "best efforts" to "work diligently." [Editor's note: Maria Giese also wrote a Women and Hollywood column regarding this mild-seeming but crucial shift in word choice.]
9) Nobody knows how to implement a successful diversity program. Many have tried and failed. SONY may have a plan that works.
10) The DGA needs to come up with ideas and present them by July.
Look, everybody who was present during these negotiations reported back to us that Paris, Jay, and Co. fought and argued passionately for diversity and the women's cause. That's not up for debate here.
But can we please, please stop pretending that everybody is trying their best and that it's just an impossible task to accomplish?
It's this type of fake activism that drives me fucking crazy. JUST STOP!
Do you know who Kellan Elliott-McCrea is? No? Well let me introduce you:
He is the CEO of Etsy and someone who decided to make diversity a core value.
Because Etsy's customers are 80% women (hello, TV audience), gender diversity became a priority. His efforts in the first year to increase the number of female engineers failed. As a matter of fact, they saw a 35% decrease in gender diversity. He realized, "Something wasn't working, this was deeply broken." So he and his team put their heads together, reevaluated their plan, identified potential road blocks, came up with a new plan, and voila:
Etsy increased their female employees by 500%.
Now, Kellan may rock a hair-do reminiscent of a famous genius and clearly he must be wicked smart, but as far as I know he's not uniquely gifted in the IQ department.
But you know what he is? Sincere. He actually meant what he said, rather than having some mental masturbation session about gender equality.