The Rev. Al Sharpton has been appointed to the founding board of the Creative Thread Foundation, a newly formed organization dedicated to “opening doors for multicultural representation, diversity and inclusion” in the media, entertainment and communications industries. Trouble is, the founding board isn’t very inclusive of women: Only three of its 13 board members are female.
The foundation’s board also is chaired by two men: Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University, will serve as chairman, and Eduardo Soto will serve as vice chairman — giving women just 20% of the roles on its board.
Asked about this disparity, newly appointed board member Loris Taylor, president and CEO of Native Public Media, said: “I would love to see not just more women, but individuals who can carry our mission of inclusion in the media on a larger scale. I think in general the broadcast industry is still dominated by men, and it’s going to take strong leadership by both men and women to change that landscape.”
The other women on the inaugural board are Megan Hauck, director of the IAB Education Foundation, and Kimberly Hulsey, VP Legal and Government Affairs at Scripps Networks Interactive.
The other men on the board are:
- John C. Yang, President & Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice
- Antonio Tijerino, President & CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation
- John Gibson, Advisor for Inclusion & Multicultural Outreach at the Motion Picture Association of America
- Marcellus Alexander, Executive Vice President, Television at the National Association of Broadcasters and President, NAB Education Foundation
- Benjamin Lopez, Executive Director at the National Association of Latino Independent Producers
- Felix Sanchez, Chairman & Co-Founder at the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts
- Alex Nogales, President & CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition
- Marc Morial, President & CEO of the National Urban League
- Joseph Fortson, Vice President, Government Affairs at Nielsen
In a statement, the Creative Thread Foundation said its mission centers on four key areas:
- Breaking down barriers to entry for underrepresented content creators and those working behind the scenes in the media and entertainment industry;
- Creating pipelines and mentorship opportunities for recognizing and promoting talent and projects that reflect America’s diverse reality;
- Sharing best practices to allow for better recruitment, retention, and awareness of underrepresented content creators; and
- Encouraging coalitions of corporations, industry associations, universities, and public interest groups to work together to provide better opportunities for multicultural content creators and to develop content featuring and representing untold stories of underrepresented groups.
Gates could not be reached for comment but said in a statement: “With their extensive experience and unique voices, our board members will help inform and steer the Foundation’s efforts toward greater impact in closing the diversity gap in the media, entertainment, and communications industries.”