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2019 Oscars Demonstrate Fruits of Diversity and Inclusion Efforts

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This year’s Oscar awards ceremony was notable in a couple of ways. For one, the ceremony didn’t have a host this year. After some controversy over alleged homophobic remarks the Oscars scrapped planned host Kevin Hart. After an unsuccessful search for a replacement, they ultimately opted to go host-less, which observers felt went off very well.

Toward a More Diverse Field of Nominees

The second change has been longer in the making. In 2016 outrage emerged over the perceived lack of diversity in the Oscars, as highlighted by the prominence of the #OscarsSoWhite movement. As this chart from Time demonstrates, the Oscars have been historically dominated by white nominees for the major individual categories: best actor, best actress, best supporting actor, and best supporting actress through 2015, just before the movement took off.

In response, in 2016 the Academy vowed to increase representation by women and minorities, which was intended to increase the number of nominees from historically under-represented groups. In 2017, observers acknowledged progress, albeit slow progress, toward greater diversity. In 2018, commentators once again bemoaned slow progress toward diversity as the awards ceremony also received its lowest ratings ever.

A D&I Turning Point?

This year, however, the diversity initiative seems to have hit a potential inflection point. USA Today’s Oscar headline read: “‘Finally the door is wide open’: Oscars’ big winner is diversity as winners make history.” Slate proclaimed, “When it Comes to Diversity, These Were the Perfect Oscars for 2019.” And whether it was the host-less format, the increase in diversity or simply interest in the individual performers and films, the Oscars saw their highest ratings in five years.

Related: Barbie Embraces Diversity With Differently Abled Dolls

Inclusion is a Business Imperative!

This story of the Oscars over the last several years illustrates a couple of points we’ve often made about diversity and inclusion. First, inclusion, not just diversity, is key. It may have taken a couple of years to bear real fruit, but the Academy’s decision to diversify the body that actually selects nominees and votes on winners—i.e., inclusion—has resulted in a more diverse ceremony. Second, diversity and inclusion are good for business. Again, it’s hard to say for sure what drove the boost in ratings this year, and it may be due to a combination of factors, but the broader demographic appeal of a more diverse applicant pool almost certainly contributed to this year’s higher ratings.

Be inclusive!

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