Natasha Tony, CEO of Elevate Inclusion Strategies, is a film industry member, labour relations specialist, and inclusion expert. She recently launched a Professional Development and Skills Training program specifically for Film and Television professionals.
Q: Why does the film industry need customized inclusion training?
NT: Film and television is a unique industry with its own culture and ways of working. That needs to be considered and built into the training so that it resonates with leaders, supervisors, and crew, and actually helps create change.
An example of this is the industry’s hiring practices. Historically, hiring has been based on personal networks. This creates workplaces that lack diverse representation. Specific training on more inclusive hiring practices will have an immense impact. Representation matters in front of and behind the camera in all departments.
Collaborative industry initiatives such as Creative Pathways, the Black Screen Office and the Indigenous Screen Office all recognize the importance of addressing hiring barriers for equity deserving groups. These partnerships include key stakeholders, government, unions and producers.
Q: What makes the film and television industry so different?
NT: Several factors. Productions are more often than not short-term, and the production managers, directors, producers, heads of department, supervisors, and crew can be different for each project. All industry members should receive inclusive workplace training because they need to bring that benchmark of knowledge and understanding with them to each production they work on.
The good news is that I see a growing desire on the part of unions, studios, leaders and individuals to make the shift toward inclusion. It’s also really positive that the evidence shows that when teams are more diverse and use inclusive practices, there’s an increase in innovation, creativity, and job satisfaction.
Q: What are the dangers of not embracing a culture of inclusion in the film and television industry?
NT: Workers today have different expectations and seek employers that embrace diversity and inclusion and psychologically safe workplaces. More importantly, if the culture meets expectations, they stay with those employers and teams — which is a bonus for crew members and productions.
It’s also important to realize that discriminatory behaviour or practices are against the law, and employers can face significant consequences if discrimination occurs. Human Rights and Occupational Health and Safety laws and regulations contain language that holds us all accountable. Employers, unions, supervisors, and workers are responsible for ensuring that workplaces are safe and inclusive, and they need to understand the law and regulations around that expectation.
Q: What drives you to do this work?
NT: I have worked in film and tv for the past 30 years – in front of the camera, behind the scenes as a casting director, in labour relations and now as an advisor. As a long-time industry member, I know the culture, which means I’m trusted to deliver meaningful training, and I have a strong desire to see it evolve to become more inclusive.
Increasing inclusion is about giving everyone the opportunity to join the industry and thrive and grow. Essentially, this is the overarching goal of my work.