Listen. Understand. Act. 

 WarnerMedia Equity & Inclusion 

A person smiling for the camera    Description automatically generated with medium confidenceWarnerMedia views diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) as moral and business imperatives. As a company of storytellers and journalists, we have a responsibility to make sure we have a collection of voices and people whose stories reflect —and connect with— the global audiences we serve. 

We use our global position in media and entertainment to push for and co-create a more inclusive industry. As corporate citizens, we know we must maximize our considerable resources in storytelling to address inequities that exist in our society head on with compassion, urgency and specificity. 

In 2018, WarnerMedia was the first to announce a production Diversity, Equity and Inclusion policy. Since then, partnering with production companies, networks, guilds, unions, talent agencies and others in the industry, the company works to ensure that there is greater inclusion of underrepresented groups including women, people of color, the LGBTQIA community, and those with disabilities both in front of and behind the camera. In 2019, we released our first DEI report. 

In early 2020, a key differentiator for WarnerMedia’s DEI strategy was created when Christy Haubegger, WarnerMedia’s Chief Equity & Inclusion Officer and Global Head of Communications & Marketing, assembled her team of best-in-class senior professionals from our industry. The team’s focus was to build upon the company’s equity mindset by implementing a comprehensive strategy to address all aspects of diversity, equity and inclusion across our workforce, programs, content, suppliers and community. 

Haubegger’s leadership team includes three Equity & Inclusion executives: Karen Horne, who works to align our diversity investments and programs, collaborating with all WarnerMedia business units on existing initiatives, as well as expanding our efforts in new areas; Samata Narra, who is responsible for building innovative tools and global systems across the company to help facilitate the advancement of diversity in our storytelling; and MyKhanh Shelton, who works closely with the Human Resources team and our business units to root our inequities and create consistent measurements, practices, and systems to achieve our workforce goals.   

Two weeks after Haubegger announced her leadership team and explained the mission of the Equity & Inclusion Team, the world changed again. The death of George Floyd pushed racial tensions in America from a simmer to a boil. That’s when WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, less than a month in his new role, committed the organization to openly and intentionally address the collective social trauma and listen to our Black colleague’s experiences. Equity & Inclusion modified its 2020 programming and worked with Kilar to create a tailored framework to support this effort. 

WarnerMedia kicked off this commitment with Kilar’s town hall event entitled “Listen Understand & Act: A Conversation on Race”, leveraging voices from the academic, therapeutic, and social justice arenas and most importantly, from our employee base. The open dialogue during the town hall allowed co-workers to share experiences in a deeply honest and personal manner and encouraged these types of conversations to continue. The Listen Understand Act (LUA) platform is now a company-wide initiative and series that also provides the workforce with tools, information and support, including facilitated listening sessions, fostering a pathway for honest and supportive connections. 

We started with small groups led by organizational psychologist and thought leader John Amaechi and Dr. Kira Banks, a psychologist who worked with the City of Ferguson, MO, after the Michael Brown shooting in 2014. The response has been incredible. Within a short time, these Listening Sessions, were being conducted across the entire organization— from the writers’ rooms to our talent in front of the camera and crews behind-the-scenes. 

During the Listening Sessions, participants are encouraged to “learn out loud” without fear of reprisals, and without putting the onus on the only person from an underrepresented group to speak representatively for their entire demographic. Moreover, in growing recognition of identity as a partisan issue, additional Listening Sessions were held for employees with professional guidance to learn how to navigate a hyper-polarized election and work across differences. 

The success of the facilitated listening sessions led to the creation of a series called Equity Mindset for Creative Leaders to raise awareness about potential inequities on productions that could shape content. 

A key learning from WarnerMedia’s work in 2020 is that empathy must be the linchpin of our enterprise inclusion efforts. True equity needs focused attention on addressing people’s needs.  The transforming of our workforce and culture requires a strategic investment in diverse creatives and storytellers.  An open environment where people can exchange ideas and tell more authentic stories would also have to be cultivated in order to resonate with our global audience. 

As Warner Media looks forward to 2021, we believe the efforts in 2020 have established a listening culture that will continue to grow. Equity and inclusion remain key to innovation, creativity and more representative storytelling. WarnerMedia unequivocally stands with marginalized communities.  We recognize that racism, inequality, violence and hatred are real, and those realities impact every one of us.  As storytellers, as journalists and as citizens, we have a unique responsibility to deepen our individual and collective understanding, as well as to act.  We prioritize equity, breaking barriers and a human-centered approach. 

As industry leaders, we are determined to set the standard for empathy and transparency.  We use our position in the global media ecosystem to make the industry more inclusive and representative, while recognizing that work is never complete. 

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