Studios & Networks Rebuff DGA Diversity Push For “Rooney Rule”

Directors Guild "Rooney rule"
Rex/Shutterstock; Disney

While signatory film and TV companies talk a good game about increasing the opportunities for minorities and women, they have “categorically rejected” continuing proposals by the DGA to embrace a program similar to one adopted by the National Football League that’s meant to encourage teams to consider candidates of color more seriously in the coaching ranks.

Implemented in 2003, the NFL’s so-called “Rooney Rule” requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coach and other senior jobs. Named after Dan Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and chairman of the NFL’s diversity committee, it’s an affirmative action policy that’s been tried out at several other businesses as well, including Facebook and Pinterest.


The DGA quietly has been prodding the film and TV industry to adopt a version of the Rooney Rule to expand opportunities for female and minority directors. This push — which would have required producers to interview women and minority candidates as part of the hiring process for directing jobs — began during the guild’s 2013 negotiations for a new film and TV contract, but a knowledgeable source said that the companies “categorically rejected” the idea.

Undeterred, Jay Roth, the DGA’s national executive director, kept at it in the year leading up to the guild’s most recent contract talks. A knowledgeable industry source said the companies “were much more interested this time” but that when the guild sat down with management’s AMPTP in December to hammer out a new three-year contract, “The companies declined to discuss it for legal reasons.”

The federal government’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has been investigating Hollywood’s alleged discriminatory hiring practices since October 2015. The DGA declined comment and a spokesman for the AMPTP could not be reached for comment.

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