GSDM Ampersand Logo
Search Icon


Search Submit Icon
Search Close Icon
Link Copied to Clipboard

The work isn’t done when you sell an idea—it’s just beginning

Production should NEVER be: “The client likes the script, so now we’re done.”
Production should ALWAYS be: “How can we make it better?”

But too often, it’s where diversity, equity and inclusion mistakes get made.
So keep your eyes open and your brain working.


What’s okay in one situation might be problematic in another

We make so many on-the-fly decisions when we’re on production, and it’s easy to trip up.

  • Take the time to think about cultural context, and keep an eye out for issues that pop up.
  • Actions, dialogue and even wardrobe might be okay for one actor, but be racist or sexist with another.
  • Educate yourself about stereotypes and sensitivities, especially as they relate to what you’re advertising. You need to know how groups have been marginalized and where your brand and its industry factor in.
  • Diverse teams and vendors help with this, but we can’t count on other people to flag things. This is on everyone.
  • If something feels off, don’t be shy. It’s always better to catch things early than realize in an edit that what you shot can’t be used.


Expand your community of vendors

We’re all most comfortable using the vendors we know. It’s easy.

But if we’re going to improve diversity and make better work, we need to expand our circles. We need companies that are owned by and employ a diverse range of people because that’s going to help us tell authentic, relatable stories.

So look for the assignments where you can work with someone you haven’t used before or who’s more up and coming. Vendors can’t show us what they can do until we give them a chance.

(Bonus: You might find a new favorite.)


In 2018, GSD&M pledged to Free the Bid and include one woman director every time we triple bid. This hasn’t always happened, but it’s a worthy goal that we’re committed to.

Free the Bid expanded to become Free the Work and now includes a whole database you can search to find all types of underrepresented creators.

Now our pledge is to include an underrepresented creator every time we triple bid.

Need some help?

Ask our Vendor Diversity Director ([email protected]), who is a fantastic resource.


Have your Black talent’s back

Watch out for colorism during production.


Hair is a big deal in the Black community, and other people often don’t get it. Even in recent years, we’ve seen schools suspending students for having braids, locs and other natural styles and companies discriminating against natural Black hair for “not being professional.” Let’s not be complicit in that kind of attitude.


When you cast Black talent, request Black hair stylists and makeup artists—or at least ones with a proven track record working with Black talent. We’ve heard stories about actors having to do their own hair or creatives having to go into their own purses for makeup that works. Not cool.


Colorism can come into play, often unintentionally, here. Use retouching and color correction as needed to accurately represent the talent. Do not alter their skin tone from how it would appear in person.


Look for diverse production talent, and bring them back

A diverse crew is just as important as a diverse cast.

Too often, we just choose a director and let the production company choose everyone else (script supervisors, stylists, directors of photography, makeup artists, craft service people, etc.).

But we can have a massive say about that (especially before the bid is signed).

Let production companies know we expect a diverse crew, and ask them to help us meet the following goals:

  • 50% women (minimum of 35%)
  • 40% underrepresented minority (minimum of 25%)

NOTE: Women who are also underrepresented minorities count toward both goals.

Pay attention to who makes the work better on the shoot, who knows how to light, make up and style all the talent and who brings a missing perspective.

Get their names.

Request them.

Give them more exposure. Put more money in their pockets.

They will in turn influence more people, and sets will become more and more diverse.




Widen your talent net