Directors Guild Of Canada Finds People Of Color “Significantly Underrepresented” Among Its Members

A first-of-its-kind census conducted by the Directors Guild of Canada has found that people of color are “significantly underrepresented” among its membership, accounting for only 18.3% of the more than 3,000 members who completed a self-identifying survey. According to the report, BIPOC make up 26%-27% of the Canadian population. Black members accounted for only 2.5% of the members surveyed.

“The complete results demonstrate a telling lack of diversity among the participating members,” the report found, noting that “underrepresentation of BIPOC communities exists within the guild membership in all regions of the country.”

Out of the 3,318 completed questionnaires, 82.8% of the participants identify as Caucasian, with Asian groupings (8.6%) having the second highest percentage, followed by Indigenous (2.9%) and Black (2.5%) members of the guild. According to the report, “the largest share of Black participants is of Caribbean heritage at 51.3% of members identifying as Black.”

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Women are also underrepresented. According to guild records, they account for 42.4% of all members.

See the report here.

“Our guild and our industry have a long way to go to ensure we represent the diversity of stories and audiences across this country, but the road towards this goal has to start with declaring who we are and acknowledging our numbers,” said DGC President Warren Sonoda. “The census gives us a benchmark for accountability to tell us whether our efforts towards inclusion are getting the job done.”

“This effort serves our whole guild,” said RT Thorne, chair of the DGC BIPOC Members Committee. “The industry has shifted towards a global market for original content, and there’s a hunger for varied stories that represent those diverse audiences. Moving towards greater representation within our guild will help meet the demand and create more opportunity for our whole industry.”

First Nations people – indigenous people who are identified separately from Inuit and Metis people – are also “significantly underrepresented in the DGC membership by nearly 66% versus the Canadian population,” the report says, noting that “there are not enough members to meaningfully compare Inuit and Metis membership, however both appear broadly in line with the Canadian population.”

Those identifying as straight, or heterosexual accounted for 83.3% of those surveyed. “LGBT communities are well-represented in the guild membership, making up a much larger share than the public at large,” the report says, noting that “while reliable statistics on LGBT representation are difficult to obtain, Statistics Canada estimates 4% of Canadians identify as belonging to one or more LGBT community, rising to 6.7% among Canadians aged 15-24 years old.” The report says that the guild’s representation of the LGBT community “far outstrips” those percentages, with 7.7% identifying as bisexual or pansexual, and 7.1% identifying as homosexual, gay or lesbian.

Overall, 1.8% of those surveyed identifying as transgender, non-binary or gender non-conforming, with 0.57% identified as transgender; 0.62% identifying as non-binary, and the same percentage identifying as gender non-conforming, accounting for 78 total members who identified as such or said their gender identity was not included in the options offered.

With regards to ageism, the report notes that “Perhaps surprisingly, the guild is generally representative of the general population in terms of age. Compared to the adult population of Canada, the guild has fewer members under 25 (as most lack the credits or days to join), and fewer members over 65(as most retire), but our membership is in keeping with the general population in the 25-65 prime working age years.”

With respect to persons with disabilities, the report says that “At first glance, it appears the share of DGC members identifying as persons with disabilities is approximately half the rate seen among participants in the Canadian workforce; however, a significant number of members chose not to answer this question – over 12%. This represents the highest non-answer rate of any category examined for this report. This area requires further investigation in order to consider whether this reflects a hesitance to disclose this information even in a private questionnaire.”

The report, which notes that this is “the first full pan-Canadian, membership-wide voluntary self-identification questionnaire in the history of the Canadian film & television industry,” says that it is “a vital step in fulfilling several of the five core commitments laid out in the BIPOC Members Committee Action Plan and adopted by the National Executive Board – namely, those of recruitment, outreach and data collection & accountability. These objectives are essential in our continuing work as a union and our efforts towards growth, justice and fairness in our membership and our industry.”

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