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UTA commits $1m to social justice causes

The major agency will donate $1m to organisations fighting for racial and social justice, in addition to implementing a raft of internal inclusion-boosting initiatives

By IQ on 01 Jul 2020

UTA executive director of inclusion Shanique Bonelli-Moore

UTA executive director of inclusion Shanique Bonelli-Moore


United Talent Agency (UTA) has announced a series of internal initiatives aimed at further increasing diversity and inclusion across the agency globally.

The actions – which are accompanied by a donation of US$1 million to organisations fighting for social justice – are the result of “efforts in recent weeks, led by leaders, colleagues of colour and allies across UTA, to have candid and thoughtful dialogue about the internal steps necessary to make meaningful and sustainable progress toward a more equitable community”, according to the agency, which has offices in Los Angeles, New York, London, Nashville and Miami.

Referencing the recent movement towards greater ethnic diversity in the music industry, UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer explains: “The past few weeks have shown that we must address the pace in which we’ve approached our diversity and inclusion efforts. It’s our responsibility to move forward with immediacy to ensure change happens, as a company and as individuals.

“I am incredibly grateful to my colleagues who stepped up and spoke truth to power. They are making UTA an even better place to work and helping drive true and meaningful progress well beyond our four walls.”

The $1m financial commitment will be provided over four years, and overseen by the nonprofit UTA Foundation.

“We are putting our stake in the ground publicly to hold ourselves accountable”

The new internal initiatives, meanwhile, include:

  • Observing ‘Juneteenth’ as an annual holiday and closing all US offices on that day
  • Increasing representation of people of colour throughout UTA, including senior-level positions (as demonstrated by the recent promotion of agents Chelsea McKinnies and Emerson Davis to partners)
  • Unconscious bias training for all UTA employees
  • A commitment to increasing wages for assistants and other entry-level staff, to be implemented over time
  • Actively pursuing and considering candidates of colour for every available position
  • Creating a specialised, identity-based mentoring programme for employees of colour
  • Reshaping the agent training programme to focus on increasing retention and promotion of employees of colour and other “underrepresented” colleagues
  • Creation of an internal leadership council comprising a “diverse coalition of colleagues from all levels” to influence company culture and policy

Additionally, Project Impact, which sees the agency close for a ‘day of action’ on community projects, will this year focus solely on issues of social justice and racial inequality.

UTA’s executive director of inclusion, Shanique Bonelli-Moore, says: “We believe diverse backgrounds and life experiences influence positive perspectives and great storytelling, yielding broader opportunities for our clients. Much of this work is already underway.

“It won’t all happen overnight. But we are putting our stake in the ground publicly to hold ourselves accountable and are implementing systems to sustain urgency as we pursue lasting change.”

 


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