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The Right Mindset is Key to Driving Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Shanique Bonelli-Moore

Shanique Bonelli-Moore

Executive Director of Inclusion at United Talent Agency

Shanique Bonelli-Moore, United Talent Agency

Truly driving change begins with the mindset that change can happen. And that’s a cornerstone of bringing more diversity and inclusion into the entertainment industry and beyond.

Quartz Network Executive Correspondent Britt Erler sat down with Shanique Bonelli-Moore, Executive Director of Inclusion at United Talent Agency (UTA), to discuss navigating diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) within the entertainment industry.

Shanique shares insight into:

  • Why DEI work and leadership is more important than ever in the entertainment industry
  • Her journey as a black woman in the entertainment industry
  • The challenges of leading the DEI charge within an organization

Quartz Network: Can you share some background about your current role with UTA?

Shanique Bonelli-Moore: I currently head up UTA’s inclusion efforts and I’ve been doing so since 2019. When I think back to my career 19 years ago, I started within the corporate communications field and have worked at several different companies and industries across the nation. The work that I’m doing now was something that I always embedded into my corporate communications work before the full time job. So it’s my dream job right now leading our DEI efforts and looking to make a difference not only across UTA, but across the industry at large.

Quartz Network: Why is this type of work so important in the entertainment industry?

Shanique Bonelli-Moore: The work is crucially important everywhere and when I think about the landscape of the entertainment industry, two words come to mind. Representation matters. And that may sound very cliche, I know, we’ve heard it quite a bit. But it truly is.

When you think about those who are in the entertainment industry, that unique role we play in the sense of when you think about entertainment, it is in itself an influencer. And so when you marry that idea around diversity, equity and inclusion and doing it in a way that drives that change, it speaks to using that influence and using that power to make changes across an industry that ultimately has the ability to affect change. To drive action across not only the entertainment industry, but for those who consume media and content and entertainment. So I do see that being very crucial.

When you think about the stories that are being made, or the people that are that you see on television, it is that representation that allows people to feel heard, and to feel seen. To see themselves. To say, “Hey, so and so has done it, I can do it as well.” I do think it is important and crucial in that respect, but also this idea of representative storytelling and being able to tell the stories of those who may not have a voice or those whose voices have been marginalized and certainly underrepresented. And that work really can help and shape and drive culture along.

Quartz Network: What has employee feedback been like on the DEI initiatives you’re working on?

Shanique Bonelli-Moore: Some feedback certainly supported the work that we were doing and said, “Hey, yes, do more of this!” Other times that feedback was just, “Hey, this is a gap that we had. And we need to close this gap.”

When you think about speaking truth to power, that is a role our employees played in sharing their experiences. Using those examples as a way to say, “Hey, we need to make changes in this area” or, “We need to amplify this because we do this really well.”

Being able to look to that feedback from our colleagues helps to shape and drive the work that we’re doing. And it’s not just a one-time opportunity to get that feedback. This is something that we continuously do to be able to monitor that change. To see if it’s working and to see if we need to pivot or amend or evolve our work.

We expect our leadership council to let us know what’s happening across the business. We have those opportunities within our employee inclusion groups, where, again, those are ways for people to connect with similar identities that bring their experiences to the forefront.

We track and measure our success with metrics that we’ve put in place that will help guide the work that’s being done and the work that still needs to be done. We want that honest feedback.

Quartz Network: What have been some of the obstacles and difficulties you’ve overcome in this role?

Shanique Bonelli-Moore: I think about my lived experience as a black woman and as a mother of two young children leading these efforts. Oftentimes I’m committed to checking my raw emotions. So in doing this work, I am coming with experiences and perspectives, and being able to channel that in a way that is productive and that supports not only myself, but the entire UTA family is something that you always have to balance.

There are there days where I feel very overwhelmed. There are days that I say that I am surviving and days that I’m thriving, but I’m always grateful. And I’m always looking at the work from an optimistic standpoint. Yes, I’m grounded in reality but to be able to truly drive change begins with a mindset that change can happen.

I want to center myself around optimism because I do believe and I have seen changes happen and we’ll continue to see those changes happen not only with the work that I do, but the collective effort of the company. The things that make it easier for me is the support that I have knowing my company is behind the work that we’re doing at the forefront. Not only in words and actions but any also with budgets. To do this work requires people power and eyes to be able to grow and develop. To be able to attach financials to the work that we’re doing right also requires an investment. and to see that investment being made.

I always have my eye on the prize, and it’s to create a better world and space for my children. These are the things that fuel me. These are the things that keep me going. I look forward to driving and making permanent change.

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