The Mr. Magazine™ interview: Diversity and inclusion in the year of the pandemic

2020 brought with it not only pain and suffering from the Covid-19 virus, but also saw major social upheavals on diversity and inclusion issues. Magazines, being the leading reflectors of society, were in the forefront of covering and reacting to the year of the pandemic.

In fact, when it comes to diversity and inclusion, I was able to find and buy 336 magazines, from all categories and genres, that reflected diversity and inclusion by celebrating Blackness on their covers. 336 Black subjects appeared on the covers of these magazines, almost five times more than what has appeared in the last 100 years.

I reached out to the CEOs and presidents of the major magazine media companies to ask them about what they are doing regarding diversity, inclusion, and equality both in their magazines and in their workplaces. What follows are excerpts from the answers of the CEOs and presidents (in alphabetical order) who took my call and answered my question:

Debi Chirichella, President, Hearst Magazines

“Hearst Magazines is committed to being a workplace, and also creating media, that reflects the world we live in. We put new training programs into place and added some advisory groups across the company to help us with this. It’s a journey and we know it’s a journey. I don’t think you’re ever finished. We made progress in 2020, but we’re going to continue to build on that progress.”

Andy Clurman, President & CEO, Active Interest Media

“We created a Jedi task force, which is Justice, Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and is a cross-section of people from the company. We also brought in an ad hoc diversity officer who has been leading this in terms of sourcing, education, facilitating conversations, doing content and promotional audits, hiring practices, so really looking top to bottom through our organisation and our messaging and content. And strategically are there different organisations’ approaches within a different group?”

Kent Johnson, CEO, Highlight’s for Children

“We’ve done surveys and really looked at how can we be better, because our feelings are, if we’re responsible for creating products that affect our society, we better look internally and make sure our company internally reflects well the society that we live in. And then we’re doing it in a way that creates the sense of belonging for everyone at our company.”

Bonnie Kintzer, President and CEO, Trusted Media Brands

“It’s very important to us and very important to our employees. We have a diversity and inclusion team. They have four pillars that spell out the word MORE within our diversity and inclusion and that’s Mentoring, Opportunity, Recruiting and Education. And honestly, I look at these initiatives and I think these are things that we talked about that we should have always been doing. And now we have so much employee involvement to get these things done.”

Steven Kotok, President & CEO, Bauer Media Group USA

“We’ve engaged with a consulting firm that specialises in diversity, equity and inclusion and we’re going through a process where we’re educating ourselves, meaning the whole company, the whole team. And we’re having some listening sessions as well to hear from the team. And whatever we do, actions or statements, it may take a little longer, but that’s going to come not as a top-down, written by our very excellent communications people, but more bottom-up as a company on where we stand and what we think.”

Catherine Levene, President, Meredith National Media Group

“We’re focused in two areas. One is the culture inside the company and our workforce and the other is what we show to our consumers and it’s not only the right thing to do, it’s good business to enhance our content and storytelling. To be more inclusive both in the content itself, but also in producing that content, whether that be in print, digital, video, in the art that we use, the photography. All of that has to be diverse because our audience is diverse.”

David Parry, President & CEO, A360 Media & Accelerate360

“It’s a topic amongst our senior executives every week, every day. We’re going to see more diversity in the workplace, but we have to also find ways to ensure that we are diversifying the talent pool so we can do so. We have to find ways to encourage students from all backgrounds to explore publishing and media as a career path for them. I think everyone is focused on tackling the challenge and because of that, meaningful changes can be made.”

This article was published originally in the Mr. Magazine Blog, here.

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