WrapWomen’s ‘Power Women Driving Cultural and Social Change’ Panel Looks at Possible Obstacles in the New Year (Video)

Power Women Summit 2022: Hartbeat CEO Thai Randolph says companies need to make sure DEI is considered a “business imperative” amid possible economic challenges in the new year

During the “Power Women Driving Cultural and Social Change” panel at Tuesday’s 2022 Power Women Summit, executives from across the entertainment industry weighed in on what challenges they’re seeing in 2023.

Hartbeat CEO Thai Randolph warned that the entertainment industry is already seeing a shift as the both the United States and the world enter a recessionary climate.

“We’ve seen layoffs across the board and and just a lot of sort of innovation and disruption happening in our spaces,” she said. “How content is consumed, where it’s being delivered, the pricing models around it and in many cases where there was a sort of arms war from a content perspective, we’re now seeing this kind of shift to a race to the bottom as opposed to stuff like how do we protect margins that protect the bottom line?”

According to Randolph, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is at risk of being on the “chopping block” if leaders do not make it a “business imperative.”

“If you have not made a business case for it, if you do not look at building inclusive organizations as critical to the success, the profitability, the scaling of your company and its objectives, those are the things that that are greatly at risk,” she continued. “So my hope is that we don’t lose some of the ground that we gained because the pandemic really served as a bit of a catalyst and a mirror. But those things, as we know, can be easily undone.” 

NBCUniversal executive vice president of corporate social responsibility Hilary Smith added that it’s important for media companies to find creative ways to continue making commitments toward social justice.

“I think it’s so important that companies don’t just pull the plug on those efforts,” Smith noted. “If every company all of a sudden is in the same boat, these nonprofits are really going to feel it. So it’s important to keep them a part of the agenda and figure out how to still collaborate and work towards those social justice efforts.”  

In addition to the global recession, Amazon Studios head of global diversity, equity, and inclusion Latasha Gillespie flagged a potential writers strike and “diversity fatigue” as possible obstacles heading into the new year.

“On top of all of that, the pandemic has changed the way we do things which change the way we consume content and some of that will never go back to the ways of old,” Gillespie pointed out. “So we are constantly reinventing how we meet our customers needs and continue to delight them, even when they just want to sit on their couch and consume it.”

Beyond resources, Endeavor senior vice president and head of impact and inclusion Romola Ratnam said “share of mind” will also be a key priority for leadership to keep in mind moving forward.

“If leaders are really stressed and strapped and feeling kind of more vulnerable or insecure or whatever it is, they have less space to do kind of the hard work to lean into some of the changes needed internally,” she explained. “I think that’s something to keep in mind. If this gets bad, where people’s heads are going to be at, in addition to even if you have your budget, do you have like the mental resources you need from your leaders to move the work forward?”

Ultimately, Vice Media Group chief people officer Daisy Auger-Dominguez believes 2023 will have “a lot more impossible decisions to be made” regarding everything from people to business strategy. 

“We’ve been talking about everything having changed since the pandemic. But the fact of the matter is that humans resist change as much as it comes at them and we’re still managing change,” she said. “People are still going through it and we are still adding more change on people’s limited bandwidth. So I think 2023, I’ve been thinking a lot about reonboarding our workforce, reminding everybody of who we are and what we stand for within this new set of experiences.”

She added that she is focused on ensuring there is shared accountability across the organization and urged leaders to provide “clarity on the roles that we play, the support that we give to each other” and lean into compassion.

Watch the full video above.

The Power Women Summit (PWS) is the largest annual gathering of the most influential women in entertainment, media and technology. The event aims to inspire and empower women across the landscape of their professional careers and personal lives. This year’s PWS provides two days of education, mentorship, workshops and networking around the globe – to promote this year’s theme, “A Time to Unite.” Learn more here.