Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways messages are brought to life. And not just through novels or films, but in business as well. Stories are vehicles through which we can demonstrate understanding and action, and they are the glue that ties human experiences together.
Stories also have the ability to cure the problems they help perpetuate. This was one takeaway from PwC’s Aspire to Lead event, during which Geena Davis, award-winning actor and Founder of the Geena Davis Institute, shared these inspirational words on the overwhelmingly positive impact on young girls, and boys, when they see women in leading roles: “We can create the future through what people see.”
Liken this thinking to the conversation around diversity and inclusion in film and television, and it’s not hard to draw a parallel to the feelings and concerns being expressed by individuals who are fighting for increased representation, both on camera and behind the scenes. It’s also hard not to recognize these concerns spread well beyond Hollywood, across virtually every industry, and into the hearts and minds of business leaders globally. We see it almost daily with our clients, and we know how powerful open dialogue can be with a difficult issue. That is the perspective we’ll bring today as we join senior executives and talent from the creative community at Variety magazine’s first-ever conference on diversity and inclusion in movies and TV.
For Hollywood, many might argue its purpose is not just to create a film or a show, but in the human desire to tell stories. Ones that evoke laughter, action, empathy and tears. When you take a moment to take that step back, you realize that purpose, once defined, becomes a responsibility.
It’s also a tremendous opportunity.
Just as history has shaped movies and television, movies and television have played a role in shaping history. It’s hard not to see the potential in that reality and in the power messages can have in defying stereotypes and generating hope among those who need it the most. Everyone, regardless of their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, needs and deserves to have positive reflections of themselves staring back at them. That’s as true for an industry as public, influential, and global as the entertainment industry is, as it is for every boardroom, C-Suite and workforce in businesses around the world.
What makes stories beautiful is how they are told through the eyes of the writer, director, actor, costume designer, and every single person who touches a project. How the entirety of their perspectives and lives are woven through every word written, every camera angle shot, every stitch of thread sewn. Likewise, what makes businesses thrive are the contributions made by individuals who bring a perspective to the table that differs from your own. That’s how problems are solved and ideas generated. The more inclusive we make our immediate environments, and the more we allow everyone to bring their whole selves to their work, the more successful we will all be.
Opportunity doesn’t just create doors for diversity. Diversity opens doors to opportunity.
We don’t want to pretend PwC has figured it all out. We haven't. Like many others, we’ve been on a journey of finding ways to advance the dialogue around diversity and inclusion, both inside and outside of our firm. Yes, this is a challenge because it requires taking a look at every inch of our business, from training to recruiting to leadership development, but it’s one we must rise to because our collective ability to thrive is dependent on it.
So let’s have this conversation, and let’s make sure it remains a part of all of our agendas. Let’s recognize where there has been progress, but focus on progress that still must be made.
And, one day, when we think we’re where we need to be, let’s challenge that notion and have the conversation again.
PwC’s Brian Cullinan, US Board Chairman, and Martha Ruiz, Tax Partner, are the account leaders for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (The Oscars).