5 Years After #OscarsSoWhite, Film Academy COO Is Pushing to ‘Institutionalize the Good’ (Video)

Power Women Summit 2020: Christine Simmons and other top female executives discuss moving businesses beyond bad habits

Last Updated: December 9, 2020 @ 2:24 PM

Christine Simmons, the COO of the AMPAS, isn’t letting her organization forget about 2016’s #OscarsSoWhite, which actually predated her tenure. These days she wants to “institutionalize the good” as much as eliminate the “institutionalized oppression.”

Simmons, who was part of a five-woman panel focused on “Redefining Corporate Culture” at TheWrap’s Power Women Summit, has more than just the chief operating officer initials on her office door at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She also oversees the office of representation, inclusion and equity — a role she takes just as seriously as the one that facilitates the Academy Awards.

“Just as important as it is to put on that show, it’s just as important that there’s representation,” Simmons told moderator Nina Shaw, who is the founder of the Hollywood Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality. “It’s a business imperative.”

That sentiment was echoed by female leaders of other major Hollywood organizations.

Simmons and Shaw were joined by a trio of other talented women with similar professional (and personal, really) objectives. And perhaps surprisingly for 2020, which not only brought the coronavirus pandemic to our shorelines but also saw some of the most egregious acts of police brutality against Black people, optimism was a pretty big part of the 35-minute conversation.

Christy Haubegger, the chief enterprise inclusion officer and head of marketing and communications at WarnerMedia — as well as a self-described “relentless optimist” — believes this is actually a “good moment” we’re currently experiencing in the push toward racial equality.

But we still need to have a “reckoning,” Haubegger said.

“The reckoning that we need to have in this country about where we came from and what we were built on and all of those assumptions is overdue,” Haubegger said. “While it may seem like the worst of times, until we confront that, I don’t think we get to move forward. And so I actually feel like this is a good moment.”

The good news is, Haubegger believes each of the women on our panel can make the difference they so desperately seek. Think globally, act locally.

“Each of our companies is so massive. We are a small piece of society itself,” Haubegger said. “And if we all decide that we’re going to actually change the way we operate, that we’re going to make things more equitable in the reality that we control, which is our workplace, then we can actually begin to move towards a more equitable and just society.”

Watch the important discussion, which also featured insights from Comcast’s chief diversity officer Dalila Wilson-Scott and Dalana Brand, Twitter’s vice president of people experience and head of diversity and inclusion, unfold via the video above.

TheWrap’s Power Women Summit runs from Dec. 8-10.

The Power Women Summit, presented by the WrapWomen Foundation, is the largest annual gathering of the most influential women in entertainment, media and technology. The Summit aims to inspire and empower women across the landscape of their professional careers and personal lives. This year’s all-virtual PWS provides three days of education, mentorship, workshops and networking around the globe to promote “Inclusion 360,” this year’s theme.