Identifying Thinkwell Group’s Diversity and Inclusion Council
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As Thinkwell approaches its 20th anniversary, it was time, in many regards, to take stock. Like so many companies in our industry, we’ve grown and contracted over the years with the ebb and flow of projects and built ourselves organically into the company we are today. As we look towards our next twenty years, one thing that became clear was that no matter how good our intentions were, we need to ensure that our values are baked into our structures, policies, practices, and culture. As there was increasing awareness of and discourse around systemic racism and violence towards Black people, in particular, this work took on extra urgency.
Diversity and Inclusion work is a long arc which never ends: because we will always need to do the work of ensuring our work environments, processes, and creative products do not perpetuate inequity or harm. Because of this, it was crucial that we spend the time and effort putting in place a team and framework that will allow this work to be iterative, measurable, and enduring. This summer, we solicited interest from staff across every team in our LA Studio, and assembled our Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Council. The members are drawn from every discipline and range from newcomers to the industry to seasoned veterans who represent a wide variety of traditionally underrepresented groups.
Importantly, the Council is not charged with ‘fixing it’ – that’s a mistake all too many companies and institutions make when beginning this process. Rather, they identify, empower, and assess:
- Through a combination of tools, including surveys, workshops, and interviews, identify areas both internally to Thinkwell and externally where inequity and racism lurk and must be addressed and define projects to address these. As an example, the Diversity and Inclusion Council reviewed and workshopped our revised Vision, Mission, and Values statements.
- Assemble and empower D&I Project teams, drawing on the expertise and enthusiasm of other Thinkwellians, to take on projects specific to improving D&I. For example, many Thinkwellians faced educational barriers and a lack of support for their chosen careers when they were younger; a project team will develop a toolkit Thinkwellians can use in their communities to help engage traditionally underrepresented youth in the career opportunities Themed Entertainment represents.
- Through studio- and company-wide surveys, the D&I council will assess where the internal Thinkwell culture sits with regards to these issues. In addition, the D&I Council will review and synthesize evaluation to assess the outcomes of the D&I projects, and report out on where we are succeeding and where we still have work to do.
This structure has two important features baked in: first, it does not put the burden of developing, implementing, and evolving solutions strictly on the Diversity & Inclusion Council, through the involvement of other Thinkwellians in those project teams. Secondly, by placing an emphasis on assessment, it allows us to both build on quantifiable success and report to the industry at large the impact and importance of our efforts. Ultimately, while our work is inward, we want to share our efforts widely, so that we can see real change take hold in the industry we’ve collectively dedicated our careers to and love so dearly.