"Industry employers have consistently failed to hire women and minorities in numbers that demonstrate any true commitment to the encouragement of diversity in the directorial team."
The words are from Jack Shea, president of the Directors Guild of America, regarding the Guild's just-released 1999 annual report on women and minority hiring.
The DGA report monitors Guild employment for theatrical film, film television, and tape. Employment percentages for women and minority directors declined in several areas during 1999. For example:
DGA women film directors worked 7.4% of the total days worked by Guild directors during 1999, down from 8.5% in 1998. DGA women non-theatrical film directors worked 8.3% of the total days worked by Guild directors during 1999, down from 9.7% in 1998; DGA women theatrical film directors worked 6.1% of the total days worked by Guild directors during 1999, down from 6.3% in 1998.
In film, the percentage of total days worked by DGA African-American directors rose from 4.2% of the total days worked by Guild directors in 1998, to 5.4% in 1999. This gain was more than offset by the marked decline in total days worked by DGA African-American directors in tape from 6% in 1998, to 2.5% in 1999. This is the lowest employment level for DGA African-American tape directors since 1990.
DGA Latino directors suffered a decline in the percentage of total days worked in both film and tape. DGA Latino film directors worked only 1.1% of total days worked by Guild directors in 1999, down from 1.9% in 1998, and DGA Latino tape directors worked 2.7% of total days worked by Guild directors in 1999, down from 3.7% in 1998.
DGA Asian American directors' number of total days worked in both film and tape increased marginally. DGA Asian American film directors worked 1.5% of total days worked in 1999, up from 1.1% in 1998, and DGA Asian American tape directors worked 1.9% in 1999, up from 1.7% in 1998.
DGA minority tape directors worked 7.1% of total days worked by Guild directors in 1999, down from 11.4% in 1999.This is the lowest employment level for DGA minority tape directors since 1995.
Small Light of Hope
Offering some small hope in the overall dismal 1999 statistics is an increase in the percentage of total days worked by women tape directors—the percentage of total days worked by DGA women tape directors increased from 15.8% in 1998, to 22% in 1999.
The new report tracks the number of total days worked by DGA women and minorities as a percentage of the number of total days worked by all DGA members in 1999. Those numbers are compared to each preceding year since 1986. In addition, the report tracks women and minority membership statistics.
"The employers have repeatedly promised to do everything they can to provide more opportunities for women and minorities to establish their careers as members of the directorial team," noted Shea. "This report clearly shows they are not actively pursuing the fulfillment of that promise.
"The Guild itself has no barrier to membership," said Shea. "Until the industry begins to hire women and minorities in greater numbers—thereby increasing their share of the employment pool—the diversity of the directorial team will continue to languish."
The percentage of minority members entering the DGA each year has remained stagnant at an average of 12.6% for the past five years, a figure less than half of the 28.6% minority share of the American population calculated by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The Census Bureau figure for women as a percentage of the U.S. population is 51.1%, while in 1999 the percentage of women members entering the DGA was only 26.6%. This represents the lowest percentage of women members entering the DGA since 1995, and the second consecutive year of a decline.
"The DGA is committed to doing everything possible to encourage a diverse membership," commented DGA National Executive Director Jay D. Roth."If the industry were truly committed to diversity, the growth of the women and minority membership would be more commensurate with the diversity of the U.S. population as a whole."
"Among other initiatives, the DGA this year hosted several 'Making Diversity Work' mixers sponsored by ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX," said Roth. "Their representatives assured DGA members that things are changing at the networks—that the networks are now fully committed to improving diversity in the industry. We hope to see those promises reflected in next year's statistics. We urge all industry employers to follow suit and to make a firm commitment to providing equal employment opportunities for women and minority directorial team members."
Other Team Members
In addition to directors, the DGA report also tracks employment figures for other members of the directorial team. In 1999, the overall percentage of total days worked by DGA women Unit Production Managers (UPMs) increased from 19.6% in 1998, to 23.8% in 1999.
However, the overall percentage of total days worked by women First Assistant Directors (1ADs) remains essentially unchanged, decreasing from 19.5% in 1998, to 19.3% in 1999.
The percentage of total days worked by DGA minority UPMs declined from 3.8% in 1998 to 3.4% in 1999, while minority 1ADs increased from 9.7% to 11.7%.
Women Second Assistant Directors (2ADs) remained virtually static, as did minority 2ADs. The percentage of total days worked by DGA women 2ADs decreased from 37.6% in 1998, to 37.5% in 1999; the percentage of total days worked by DGA minority 2ADs increased from 14.4% in 1998, to 14.8% in 1999.
The percentage of total days worked by DGA women Associate Directors decreased from 51.7% in 1998, to 46% in 1999, while the overall percentage of total days worked by women Stage Managers increased from 31.1% in 1998, to 35.6% in 1999.
The overall percentage of total days worked by DGA minority Associate Directors increased from 7.9% in 1998, to 10.6% in 1999, while minority Stage Managers decreased from 34.8% to 22.6%.
"These disappointing employment figures only serve to strengthen the DGA's commitment to leveling the playing field for women and minorities in all Guild categories," DGA First Vice President Martha Coolidge said."The report should serve as a wake-up call to industry employers that they must heighten their efforts to provide equal employment opportunities for women and minority DGA members."