Does Hollywood Have a Diversity Problem? Or is the Problem Inclusion?

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What did everyone think of the “We Solved It” skit from the opening at the Emmy’s the other night? On one hand, I like the fact that people in Hollywood are talking about these things.  Leave it to the cast of SNL (and others) to turn it into something funny.  While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it does make you wonder how far to the other extreme we have gone when it comes to diversity.  I’ve said this before and I will continue to say it, but I think we need to focus more on inclusion, rather than diversity.  What do I mean?  Inclusion is the act of including people.  Whereas diversity highlights differences.

Before you get too excited, I am not saying that diversity shouldn’t exist.  We need diverse representation in everything we do.  But where we’ve gone with it now seems to be in the opposite direction.  For example – in the video, they introduce the dancers as “one of everything”.  Meaning there is a diverse representation of dancers.  There is also a reference to Sandra Oh being the only Asian ever nominated for an Emmy.  While that’s an incredibly sad fact, I wonder if it has to do with the fact that we identify her first and foremost as an Asian, rather than just an incredible actor? Please don’t get it twisted.  There is a way to be diverse.  There is a way to look past the fact that someone checks a certain box, and I think that’s through inclusion.

What do I mean by that?  When we have an inclusive society (or event, or workplace) it means that we’re accepting of everyone.  When we focus on diversity, it seems like we are saying “you are different”.  Rather than celebrating the fact that we’re all different.  Again – getting back to the “We Solved It” video, Andy Samberg attempted to join in and he was told that he couldn’t – simply because he was white.  Please do not think that I am suggesting that white people are diverse and need greater representation.  But when it comes to inclusion – we have to include everyone – regardless of what they look like.  I know that we’re going to get a lot of feedback on that one.  That said, being white isn’t diverse.  But being inclusive means that it doesn’t matter what your skin color is, or what your race, your religion, your gender etc., you get included.

And I think that’s the bigger problem with Hollywood right now.  Before the problem was Hollywood wasn’t being inclusive because everyone winning the awards or being in the top spots were predominantly white men.  But now we’re going to the extreme on the other side and saying that white men need not apply, and I don’t think that’s the message either.  When something is truly inclusive, everyone feels like they’re part of the organization.  If we go too far in this direction, are we only picking people because of their race or gender and not picking them for their talents?  I think it’s certainly a fine line.  But it’s my opinion that the only way to get there is through inclusion, and not focusing solely on diversity.  Yes – the two need to work together.  But without inclusion, we are simply focusing on differences.