When Paramount announced the expansion of our global Content for Change initiative last year we set out to further explore how representation and inclusivity have taken shape across our productions and how the stories we tell on-screen influence the way we see ourselves and other people.

This is part of a dedicated effort to build on Paramount’s legacy of work to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion and use rigorous research and data to inform a new wave of inclusive storytelling that counteracts racism and bias.

At Paramount, we often say what gets measured gets done, and so a major part of this work is grounded in research and measurement. When we shared our plans to expand Content for Change, we announced a partnership with the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative to analyze 62 series from across Paramount, with the intention of examining in detail how representation and inclusion show up across our content creation ecosystem.

This analysis was just the first step in this journey. And, while not an exhaustive look at all Paramount content, this snapshot makes clear that while we have made progress in representation, we still have work to do to create sustainable change.

About this research

The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative analyzed the makeup of Paramount’s on-screen talent as well as our creators, producers, writers, and directors from 62 Paramount series from ten brands over a two-year period from 2019-2021. This included 33 Scripted, 21 Unscripted, and 8 Animated series. For each series, the first two episodes of the most recent season were analyzed for gender, race/ethnicity, LGBTQ+, and disability representation. On-screen representation was assessed for every speaking or named character in a series as well as series regulars, including main cast and voice talent. For behind-the-camera measures, the percentage of personnel holding specific above-the-line roles and series creators were examined.

The results

The study found that Paramount is excelling in representing characters from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups. Black representation among speaking characters is nearly 20 percentage points higher than the U.S. Census, while representation of underrepresented racial/ethnic speaking characters overall is 13 percentage points higher.

And when there is more representation behind the camera, the analysis found that it’s reflected on screen too. When Paramount shows had creators from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, they featured nearly three times as many underrepresented main cast members compared to series that had white creators. However, more work needs to be done to strengthen the representation of individual racial/ethnic groups like Hispanic/Latinos, Asians, and Indigenous people.

The study also uncovered the need for Paramount to improve gender equality on-screen and behind the camera to better reflect the U.S. population and deliver more accurate female representation on screen. LGBTQ+ and people with disabilities also remained underrepresented relative to the population across the Paramount series that were analyzed.

To drive more diverse representation on-screen, it’s crucial to strengthen ties with diverse creators and talent behind the camera – namely, by continuing to support writers and producers of color, as well as leaning into opportunities to increase the depiction of LGBTQ+ characters and those with disabilities.

More research to come

In 2022 and 2023, Paramount commits to commissioning 8 new insights studies, including a follow-up study with Annenberg. These studies will be invaluable tools as we strive to better understand the needs and desires of BIPOC audiences and to deliver more inclusive content.