Oscars 2017

2017 Oscars: Foreshadowing a More Inclusive Future?

Photo by Prayitno (Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons)

Lights, camera, representation!

It is no secret that the Academy Awards last year was a disappointing event.  With only white nominees included in the top four categories, the coveted night turned into a cause for backlash.

Many celebrities, including Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith, boycotted the event, while others spoke out against the problem.  The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite was created so people could take the issue even further and express why the lack of diversity needed to change.

And change it did.  Released this week, this year’s Oscars ballot has diversified.  Out of the 20 nominees in the top four categories, six of them are African American actors and actresses.

This increased representation has not gone unnoticed.  As Barry Jenkins, director of Oscar nominated film”Moonlight,” told The New York Times:

“It’s an affirmation that film has the power to erode barriers and reveal what makes us all human.”

In order to continue moving forward, this is an outlook people must maintain.  There are certainly a large number of diversity-related barriers left to erode, not just in film, but in the rest of the workforce as well, and the Oscars are providing a window into that fact.

Is the newly inclusive ballot a preview of how the rest of the labor force will follow?

Let’s take a look.

According to a study by Catalyst, a nonprofit focused on inclusivity of women in the workplace, 53 percent of females in the United States will be made up of women of color by 2050.  With the growing number African American, Latina, and Asian women in the country, it is important to understand how little they are represented in the workforce.

Catalyst research shows that the percentage of women of color on the S&P 500 Board is less than 20 percent of women on the board total.  Also, only 16.5 percent of S&P workers overall are women of color.

This common theme of a lack of diversity, from the Oscars to the stock market, is being recognized.  Change is also being demanded by the people taking note, which has the potential to benefit society.

Samantha Tran, Social Justice Coordinator at the MultiCultural Center of California Polytechnic State University, acknowledges the importance of being able to see one’s culture represented on a larger scale:

“With representation from different ethnic groups, the work environment is filled with different personalities, experiences, and strengths that can only enhance productivity. The inclusion of people of color in the workplace can bring a variety of ideas and perspectives that could expand work output to cater to various communities.”












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