Actors' Equity Association, the national labor union representing actors and stage managers on Broadway and beyond working in professional theatre, has released its third diversity and inclusion hiring bias report, reflecting the year 2020. Findings show that white men made more than white women and non-binary people for the same amount of work, a modest increase in the percentage of contracts going to members of color, and a continued disparity in what members of color were paid in comparison to white members.
The report is the union's third, but only the second since moving to an annual release schedule. Reflecting a tumultuous year marked by a pandemic that shut down much of live theatre, Equity stresses that the report still includes data from thousands of union actor and stage manager jobs.
“2020 was obviously an outlier year," shares Actors' Equity President and Broadway actor Kate Shindle. "[O]ur industry was among the hardest hit by COVID, and work weeks were nowhere close to the norm. But 2020 was also the year in which theatrical leaders across the country loudly and collectively promised to do better, so we felt it was important to continue our work tracking hiring bias.
“We are disappointed by the realities of the data. While there was some incremental progress here and there in 2020, the theatre fell far short of fulfilling its promises of diverse and inclusive hiring. Equity has made it a top priority to combat inequality in the industry, but we cannot do this work alone. We call on everyone who makes hiring and pay decisions in the theatre to demonstrate their commitment through their actions as well as their words."
The report also found that stage management jobs continue to overwhelmingly go to white members, with pay gaps along racial and gender lines. Similar pay gaps were found for members that are disabled, transgender, or over 65 regardless of race.
“Equity cannot control who employers choose to hire, but we can—and must—be outspoken about the inequality we see,” says Equity Diversity and Inclusion Strategist Bliss Griffin. “We have been tracking this data since 2013 and still see only marginal improvement. The stakes for this industry are higher than ever, but the response to this crisis remains far too slow.”
Read the full report at ActorsEquity.org.