Latino representation in the media industry remains low, study finds

Stevica Mrdja / EyeEm

Latino representation in the media industry remains low and has grown only a small amount in recent years, according to a report released Wednesday by the Government Accountability Office. Rep. Joaquin Castro, who requested the report alongside other members of the Hispanic Caucus, said the findings demand intervention at the federal level.

The report estimated that from 2010 to 2019, the percentage of media workers who are Latino grew from 11% to 12% — compared to an estimated rise from 15% to 18% for Latino workers in other fields.

Latinos make up 18.9% of the U.S. population, according to a 2020 census report, and the report estimated that they comprise about 17% of the civilian workforce.

The term "media workers" encompasses those who work in television, film, news and other publications, including actors, camera operators and journalists.

"It's distressing that we are still talking about this issue of Hispanic media underrepresentation," Sonia Pérez, CEO of the Latino nonprofit advocacy organization UnidosUS, said at a Wednesday press conference.

Film, television and news industries have been criticized for years for the lack of diversity in their workforce, including discrepancies in gender parity and access to management opportunities.

Between 2015 and 2019, Latina women made up an estimated 3% of the media workforce, compared to 7% for Latino men, the report found.

Looking at a similar data set, the report found that while Latino workers make up an estimated 19% of service workers in the industry, they only comprise an estimated 4% of senior and executive management staff.

"The media industry is failing the Latino community at a time when in many ways Hispanics are the nation's future," Pérez said.

Castro, a Texas Democrat,  told CBS News that the majority of the solution must come from the government and from companies that have been resistant to diversifying their workforce.

"There's got to be a stronger discrimination enforcement from the federal government and corporations," Castro said.

The report recommends that the office of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) share data about discrimination charges against media companies and  ensure local unions share demographics of their members.

"My office is sending a letter to the FCC and the EEOC that asked them to move swiftly to execute the recommendations," Castro said.

Such calls for diversity are only expected to grow as the Latino population in the U.S. rises. According to a forecast from the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2060, Latinos will account for 28% of the population.

"It's a community that not only doesn't deserve to be invisible, but really for the sake of the country can't afford for it to be invisible," Rep. Castro added.

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