Female and Nonwhite TV Writer Hiring Is Up in 2019 Despite Fight With Agencies, WGA Says

“Gains are on track with the general trend of increasing inclusion in TV writer employment over the last 10 years,” guild says

WGA ATA dispute

The Writers Guild of America says its ongoing dispute with talent agencies has not had a negative effect on efforts to increase diversity in writers rooms during the 2019 staffing season.

On Friday night, WGA released what it called an updated Inclusion Report Card that factors in “preliminary” data from the most recent wave of entertainment industry hiring. The report said that women have made up 39% of hires during the current TV staffing season, compared to 37% in 2018, and people of color made up 30% of hires compared to 29% last year.

WGA said also that the percentages were based on writers for whom demographic information is known, and that the preliminary data included “about 60%” of expected hiring, meaning the results will be adjusted later in the year.

“WGA members concerned about the effect of the agency campaign on our most vulnerable members — including women and people of color — should be encouraged by these results,” a guild statement read. “While these groups remain underrepresented relative to their percentages in the overall U.S. population and there is much more work to be done to stop systemic discrimination in the hiring of writers, employment data from 2019 shows that our progress has not been stalled.”

“We urge all studios and showrunners to continue being part of the solution. With integrity, accountability, and continued effort, we can end discrimination against writers and increase inclusion and equity across our industry,” the statement continued.

Representatives for the Association of Talent Agents did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap.

WGA is currently in an ongoing dispute with agencies, including lawsuits against the four biggest agencies — William Morris Endeavor, United Talent Agency, Creative Artists Agency and ICM Partners — over packaging, in which fees are paid by a studio to agencies to package directors, writers, and other talent for a project. The guild says the practice is a violation of agents’ fiduciary duty to their clients and against federal and state labor laws.

Meanwhile, WGA has reached agreements with midsize agencies Buchwald, Pantheon and Kaplan Stahler to break ranks with ATA and agree to the guild’s Code of Conduct, which requires agencies to eliminate packaging fees in order to represent writers.