EXCLUSIVE: The MTV Entertainment Group (formerly Entertainment and Youth) is looking to make progressive change in its creative community with the newly launched comprehensive DE&I (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) orientation called “Culture Code”. The immersive employee-led initiative is in partnership with The Museum of Tolerance, Color of Change, GLAAD, Anti-Defamation League, The Jed Foundation, MPAC, RAINN, RespectAbility and Storyline Partners.
The aforementioned social justice organizations will collaborate with the MTV Entertainment Group will help develop the program which will “construct a communal set of values, understanding and baseline cultural norms to create a more inclusive and welcoming creative community.”
The initiative will offer best-in-class training through a multidisciplinary approach. It will also expand beyond employees to include Viacom CBS’ MTV Entertainment Group projects, production companies and talent. The MTV Entertainment Group plans to pilot internal training by the end of 2020 with the larger rollout kicking off in early 2021.
“We live in an increasingly divisive world and yet as storytellers, we believe in the power of content to give the gift of empathy and understanding,” said Chris McCarthy, President, ViacomCBS MTV Entertainment Group. “We’re developing our Culture Code to nurture our creative community and outline a communal set of values, respect and mutual understanding that centers around the celebration of inclusion and diversity in everything we do. We are humbled to be doing it in partnership with an incredible set of organizations who have dedicated their own lives to changing the world for good.”
From people of color to the Muslim community to the disabled community to the LGBTQ community, the socially-minded groups the MTV Entertainment Group partnered with for “Culture Club” aligns with the initiative’s mission. Read quotes from the partners below.
Museum of Tolerance
“Simon Wiesenthal Center and its Museum of Tolerance have long believed that storytelling is a powerful way to engage hearts and minds for positive change. As partners of ViacomCBS, we share in the vision and commitment that America needs to move away from a cancel culture to a counsel culture. We are honored to join as a Culture Code partner to collaborate with others in advancing cultural competency and social justice in the entertainment industry. The best way to defeat hatred is to go beyond stereotypes and put a human face on the ‘other,’ said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean and Global Social Action Director.
Color of Change
“Color Of Change is proud to join ViacomCBS’ MTV Entertainment Group in its new initiative to provide the entertainment industry with a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary and inclusive education,” said Rashad Robinson, president of Color Of Change. “It will take partnerships like this to transform the media landscape and create a more humane, less hostile world for Black people, in which they are empowered to create their art and thrive. The legacy of racism in Hollywood is long and unforgivable: excluding Black talent, silencing Black voices, derailing Black careers, and using the economic power of the industry to prop up police departments in the very real world. The work of Culture Code is an important step in challenging and eliminating racism within the industry and the content it produces.”
“We are thrilled and grateful to join ViacomCBS’ MTV Entertainment Group in its launch of the Culture Code initiative,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL Chief Executive Officer and National Director. “The importance of diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in the workplace and with powerful companies like ViacomCBS will contribute to racial and social justice in media and society. We look forward to working together to make meaningful change.”
The Jed Foundation
“The Jed Foundation has been working with MTV and ViacomCBS to expand the conversation around mental health for nearly 15 years, so we know firsthand the organization’s commitment to creating stories, campaigns and an internal environment where everyone feels seen, heard and understood.” said Courtney Knowles, The Jed Foundation. “We’re living in a time where taking care of our mental health, supporting each other and exploring the intersection of mental health and the other issues Culture Code addresses, is so important. We’re proud to join such an amazing group of partners for this work.”
MPAC Hollywood Bureau
“For decades, Muslims have been vilified by stories that were inaccurate, racist, and careless. Harmful, yet successful TV series and films were written about Muslim communities, many of which went unchecked by people of conscience. Our presence and voice in the writers’ room has been missing for the longest time,” said Sue Obeidi, Director, MPAC Hollywood Bureau. “ViacomCBS’ MTV Entertainment Group’s Culture Code is a welcomed initiative that is being launched at the perfect time. America is on the cusp of a new era and so is the entertainment industry. Underrepresented communities have been eager to see their deep and rich stories told authentically, fairly, and in a nuanced manner, and Muslim communities are high on that list. MPAC Hollywood Bureau is proud and honored to be part of the Culture Code initiative where we can work in tandem in telling better stories about and by Muslims. Here’s to a new beginning.”
“RespectAbility is honored to join ViacomCBS’ MTV Entertainment Group in support of the Culture Code initiative. By ensuring a comprehensive look at DE&I, the Culture Code initiative will ensure that diversity and equity-focused conversations are intersectional in nature,” said Lauren Appelbaum, Vice President, RespectAbility. “While one-in-five people in the U.S. has a disability, which includes nonvisible disabilities such as mental health and learning disabilities, most initiatives historically did not include disability. Disability cuts across every other demographic and in order to ensure full inclusion for all races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations and more, disability needs to be part of the conversation. We applaud ViacomCBS for recognizing the importance of this.”
“The current moment supports our calls to have media, content, and cultural production be anti-racist, intersectional, and ecologically considerate,” said Sanaz Alesafar, Program Director, Storyline Partners. We are thrilled to partner with ViacomCBS’ MTV Entertainment Group to ensure authentic representation and equitable practices to support their content and creative community.”
“Our participation in Culture Code builds upon decades of partnership with ViacomCBS and brings an intersectional, best in class collection of organizations to collaborate with,” said Rich Ferraro, GLAAD’s Chief Communications Officer and Executive Producer, GLAAD Media Awards. “So many of the most powerful early media images of LGBTQ people appeared on MTV and ViacomCBS’ brands. With Culture Code, the MTV Entertainment Group is once again raising the bar for how the industry should work with and include our community. The overdue conversations on diversity, inclusion, and intersectionality happening across the industry often leave out the key step of behind-the-scenes education. When content creators and staff truly understand diverse identities, it leads to more authentic stories and projects. This new initiative will no doubt lead to culture-changing media projects that entertain, inspire, and enrich audiences.”