LOS ANGELES, Aug. 24, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The first step towards changing a company's culture is admitting that there is a problem and allowing the dismantling of the systemic biases at their foundation. The leadership at FBE made the decision to do that difficult and transformative work as a company, and they have partnered with Women of Color Unite (WOCU) to guide the company on that journey.
Women of Color Unite (WOCU) is a social action organization and full-service consultancy that works with entertainment businesses to make sure their content and teams are truly inclusive, reflective of the country, and the world.
In addition to conducting an eye-opening content audit and employee survey, WOCU Founder Cheryl Bedford personally embedded herself into the company day-to-day for over a month to really see and hear what was going on in order to diagnose the problems and then heal them.
"This was an organic fit for Women of Color Unite," said Bedford. "Also, if they wanted WOCU as their DEI Firm, they were ready to do the hard work. I don't hold back. Holding back and centering around white feelings has led to this moment in time in the US. We were encouraged by the Millennial and Gen Z employees that make up 80% of the company. In their employee audit, they wanted to do the work and have been every damn day."
All FBE employees have participated in multiple mandatory training workshops - aka "WOC-shops" (pronounced "woke-shops") over the course of several weeks. Facilitators included Bedford along with Fanshen Cox, Tatiana Lee, Diana Elizabeth Jordan, Nikki Bailey, Dr. Akosua Lesesne and Dr. Cheryl Grills. In addition to the company-wide training, a DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) Task Force made up of FBE staffers has been established to continue to build on the work initiated in the training sessions and hold everyone accountable to create and maintain a more positive and inclusive company culture.
"This is a vital and, frankly, long overdue journey that we have begun as a company," said Marc Hustvedt, the CEO of FBE. "It starts with a deep examination of our culture and understanding where systemic bias, racism, and white superiority infects our everyday actions. We are still learning, and we have a lot of work ahead of us as we continue to take actions to be a truly inclusive culture for all."
One of the transformations that has emerged from the partnership is a new mission statement for FBE: We are creatives on a mission to examine and celebrate global culture through colorful, fresh perspectives and honest human stories.
"We have a role in dismantling the systems of oppression both within our workplaces and in the work that we create," said Hustvedt. "For us, as a media company that creates entertainment for a large and diverse global audience, we know that our work is a big part of how we can impact change outside of our walls. We are challenging every assumption we ever made about our creative process and the kind of impactful content we want to create."
FBE is an award-winning multiplatform studio that produces 20 serialized shows for over 44 million subscribers. FBE programming earns 300+ million monthly unique views, is watched for 1.5 billion minutes each month and has over 13 billion lifetime video views. Beyond its globally popular React franchise, FBE develops digital and traditional formats along with interactive, branded and VR content. Nickelodeon, E!, truTV, eko, Facebook and YouTube Originals have all partnered with FBE to create stories for television. The team is comprised of over 70 full-time employees in its Burbank, CA headquarters.