Despite DEI promises, media companies are still mostly hiring white people

diverse organization gif

Publishers are slowly publicly releasing the latest reports on the diversity of their workforces. And while Condé Nast, Hearst, The New York Times, Vice Media Group and Vox Media diversified their companies’ staffs compared to the year prior, they are still primarily hiring white people.

George Floyd’s murder in May 2020 brought about a reckoning in the media industry. Journalists and readers pushed publishers to diversify their organizations. Media companies hired executives to focus on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and set a number of goals to have their outlets better reflect the communities they served.

See a running tracker of these reports released last week here. Though Gannett released the latest stats on the diversity of its staff, it did not break out the diversity of new hires.

While Hearst improved the percentage of people from diverse backgrounds that it hired year over year by two percentage points, the majority of its new hires were still white. The other four publishers, however, hired a larger percentage of white people in 2022 compared to the previous year and most of its recent hires are white.

Less diversity among new hires 

At Condé Nast, 39% of new hires in the U.S. were people of color in 2022, down from 41% the previous year. Of its new hires, 49% self-identified as white, up from 45% in 2021. The remaining 12% were “undeclared.” Condé Nast set a goal in 2020 to have 50% of its candidates on hiring slates from a “wide range of backgrounds and schools,” according to the report. New hires in the U.S. were 75% female, a four percentage point increase from 2021.

New hires at Hearst were 59% white in 2022, down from 61% in 2021. However, the company hired a smaller share of women: 48% of new hires at Hearst were women in 2022, down from 51% the previous year.

At The New York Times, 44% of its new hires last year were people of color, down a whopping 10 percentage points compared to 2021. New hires were 56% women, 43% men and 1% nonbinary, whereas in 2021, 62% of new hires were women. The company noted in its report that it already hit its goal to increase the representation of Black people in leadership roles by 50% by 2025, and that the Times intends “to build on this progress, and we are on track to meet this leadership goal with regard to Latino colleagues.” The Times report shows 7% of its leadership was Black in 2022, up one percentage point year over year. The share of Hispanic/Latino people in leadership roles remained the same year over year at 5%.

New hires in the U.S. at Vice Media Group were 54% white in 2022, up from 47% in 2021. While the majority of VMG’s new hires in North America were women last year, that majority shrunk by one percentage point year over year to 65%.

At Vox Media, 44% of new hires in the past year self-identified as people of color, down from 50% in its previous report.

Overall improvements

Gannett, Hearst, VMG and Vox improved the overall diversity of their workforces by one percentage point at their respective companies, compared to their previous reports. The share of white employees decreased by two percentage points at Condé Nast, and four percentage points at The New York Times.

At Gannett, 71% of its employees self-identified as white as of January 1, 2023.

“As a company, Gannett leads with inclusion and we are intentional as we make strides around our workforce diversity. As we deepen our understanding of our workforce and embed inclusivity in every aspect of our business, we are strengthening our culture of belonging,” said LaToya Johnson, senior director of inclusion strategy at Gannett, in an email.

A Gannett spokesperson added: “We can’t stress enough that diversity is a priority for Gannett and our efforts to retain and attract talent are showing improvement.”

Non-white employees made up 32% of Condé Nast’s U.S. workforce in 2022, the same as in the previous year. Overall, 62% of its employees are white, down by two percentage points.

White people make up 70% of Hearst’s employees, down from 71% last year. 

“We continue to make progress and are actively working to have more proportionate race and ethnic representation across our brands,” a Hearst spokesperson said.

The New York Times’ workforce is now 56% white, compared to 60% in 2021. 

VMG’s U.S. workforce is now 58% white. Employees at Vox Media are 59% white.

“In a time of more limited hiring, we continue to be committed to hiring from diverse candidate pools. Our DEI+ work also focuses beyond hiring to ensure that people of all backgrounds are welcomed, celebrated, and included here,” said a Vox spokesperson.

More in Media

Media Briefing: Publishers say a cookie-less future remains murky, overheard at the Digiday Publishing Summit

Publishers who attended the Digiday Publishing Summit opened up about their top challenges, concerns and curiosities during closed-door, anonymous town hall meetings.

Why Warner Bros. Discovery is leaning harder into YouTube and Threads to monetize and engage social audiences

WBD is seeing ad revenue growth from its YouTube channels and engagement on Threads surpass performance on X.

Amazon reveals updated smart devices and software powered by Alexa LLM

Powering all of Amazon’s hardware is an updated large language model, that could help connected devices actually be smarter.