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Diversity, Equality and Inclusion

Will.I.Am Interview

We spoke to multi-award winning musician, activist and philanthropist Will.i.am to get his thoughts on how the media industry could be more representative

“Diversity, transparency, inclusion is a new era.  You want to watch programming where people that look like you. You want to feel included as the viewer. It's not just the talent that wants to be included. But the bigger way to look at race is where we are economically in ‘the race’. Where are we as far as innovation and intellectual property in the race? Where are we mathematically, scientifically and technologically in the race?  And, if you're not looking at it from that perspective, then you're just thinking about race and you lost the race.”

Did you think Black Lives Matter would change the media landscape? 

“World media is white media.  It has a white bias perspective. Here we are talking about diversity when true diversity is having black networks, Indian networks... it’s about disenfranchised communities owning platforms of communication and commerce, diversity is not just inclusion, where you’re [part of] my business. Diversity is like ‘my business is just as powerful as your business.’”

So thinking bigger than just inclusion is the truer path towards diversity and equality?

“Diversity, transparency, inclusion is a new era.  You want to watch programming where people that look like you. You want to feel included as the viewer. It's not just the talent that wants to be included. But the bigger way to look at race is where we are economically in ‘the race’. Where are we as far as innovation and intellectual property in the race? Where are we mathematically, scientifically and technologically in the race?  And, if you're not looking at it from that perspective, then you're just thinking about race and you lost the race.”

Do you think ITV should be investing in black owned media companies?

"They either do that, or they end up like Kodak.  If you were Kodak you should have invested in Instagram, right? If you were the Daily Mail, you should have invested in Twitter, right?  So positive changes in the media are Tyler Perry, Oprah Winfrey.  Folks that own their own networks.  Oprah Winfrey's network is called OWN. The Oprah Winfrey Network is literally called OWN because she owns it!  So that's a positive transformational change."

So do you think that role models are hugely important for changing the media landscape? 

"You’ve got to salute Lewis Hamilton. Because you've got to look at all the things that he's doing that could rub some people the wrong way. Lewis Hamilton is a one hundred percenter. And the moment he takes the side, he's going to kneel and he's going to alienate a portion of his following.  Being a moral goal orientated individual takes a lot of TrueNorth compass navigation to follow your gut in your heart." 

It seems that you think we need to be more ambitious?

“We need to figure out how we have a broadcast base on the moon and broadcast to our communities, because when you say diversity and inclusion how deep do you want to go bro! 

Yeah, you need a black space programme and a Native American space programme. Because these folks are disenfranchised and suffering. They’re living in a situation that began with the conquistadors, so you know, from sea ships and now to spaceships, my dude!

11 years ago, I [created a technology programme] that started off with sixty five kids in my community, the ghetto that I come from. And last year was the first year that those sixty five kids graduated. One of them graduated with a computer science degree - now we have over fourteen hundred kids being taught robotics, computer science, engineering, mathematics, all preparing them for tomorrow. 

So it starts there. But like I said, it takes capital and support. Why can't that be our scenario in Brixton?  The power of people is more powerful than people in power.”

If you want to hear more about Diversity & Inclusion at ITV, take a look at our Diversity Acceleration Plan results.

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Diversity, Equality and Inclusion