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De Blasio asks New York institutions to report diversity statistics


New York institutions have made some headway in representing artwork made by women and people of color, but how much progress have they made in diversifying their staffs? Tom Finkelpearl, commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs in Mayor De Blasio’s administration, has sent out a questionnaire about diversity statistics to all New York institutions. It’ll be interesting to see whether this information will be made public. The report in partial via New York Post below.

Nearly 1,000 organizations were asked to fill out a survey this summer detailing the race, gender and disability status of their employees and board members.

“As long as you complete the survey, you will be eligible to apply for funding from [the city] in fiscal year 2017,” institutions were told in a July 20 letter from Tom Finkelpearl, commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs.

Organizations had to fill out a “demographics spreadsheet” by combing through their personnel files for their workers’ information.

Groups that don’t keep such data were told to hand out voluntary surveys to employees, with the caveat in the instructions that “you cannot require a staff member or board member to self-report any element of their identity.”

In addition to providing the workforce information, the cultural groups had to answer a questionnaire with up to 48 questions — including “How does your organization engage with issues of diversity on a daily basis?” and “What forms of diversity do you think are important for strengthening the quality of work of your organization?”

The city plans to hire a “diversity consultant” to coordinate activities coming after the survey. That has led to some worries that particular groups would be punished for not being diverse enough.


Apparently museums aren’t the only focus of the EEoC, which is also investigating Hollywood and its lack of female directors. From Vulture:

In May, the ACLU asked state and federal governments to investigate the hiring practices that leave women with only a minuscule fraction of directing jobs. Now the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is taking them up on it: According to Deadline, the EEOC will start interviewing female directors next week about the discrimination they’ve faced. The interviews could lead to a government-led class-action lawsuit against the entertainment industry, where men directed all but two of the top 100 films of 2014 and women make up only 18 percent of first-time TV directors.

This isn’t the first time the EEOC — which is tasked with preventing discrimination on the basis of gender, race, age, and disability — has investigated Hollywood. In 1969, the agency concluded that the industry systemically discriminated against women and minorities, but it lacked the regulatory teeth at the time to do much about it. As recently as 2013, the EEOC told director Marie Giese that it could only combat Hollywood’s gender gap on the level of individual lawsuits from women who had been wronged, which she said was impossible: “No woman would risk her career by filing a lawsuit because she would be blacklisted.” Now Giese credits the ACLU with selling the commission on the class-action approach. “I hope this will be the spearhead to create equality for every woman in our industry,” she said, “and for every woman in every industry in America.”

It’s worth noting, however, that the EEOC’s investigation only pertains to female directors. In other professions, the gender gap is equally large: In the top 100 films of 2014, women made up only 11 percent of writers and 19 percent of producers, while female DPs make up only 4 percent of the membership of the American Society of Cinematographers.