Tips for Diversifying Talent in Attraction Entertainment
Online recruitment service Zippia reveals that nearly 66% of all amusement park entertainers in the U.S. identify as White. Census projections, however, show that ethnic profiles across the globe are becoming increasingly diverse.
For this reason, experts suggest amusement and theme park operators embrace more diversity in their entertainer talent, as guests are more comfortable within an attraction when they see themselves reflected.
“People want to see people that look like them, that identify like they do, in order to feel that they’re welcome in an establishment,” explains Jennifer Brown, founder and CEO of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) consulting firm Jennifer Brown Consulting. “Any amusement park as an employer needs that talent at the table thinking through things like marketing strategies, thinking through audience attraction, [and] thinking through the curation of entertainers.”
Funworld offers tips on how amusement and theme parks can create a more diverse entertainer pool.
Understand Key Markets
Dr. Philip Rothschild, professor of entertainment management in the College of Business at Missouri State University, says it’s important for facility operators to know their target market, but also recognize that there may be people on the periphery that would visit an attraction known for welcoming and representing diverse communities.
“Ask the question: ‘Who’s outside of this targeted market that we can reach and bring an additional 20% of other markets?’” Rothschild says. “Evaluate your target market, then look at the outside of your target market—where could we reach more people? What would draw them in? Maybe it is the type of diversity that is showing up on stage.”
For example, U.K.-based attractions operator Merlin Entertainments recognizes the importance of fostering inclusivity in all the regions and countries where they operate, says Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Director Sandra Sheahan.
“Specifically in North America, we have made efforts to increase diversity among our entertainers,” she adds. “Currently, 40% of our North American entertainers identify as White, while 41% belong to other ethnic groups.”
Modify Hiring Processes
Merlin Entertainments has implemented several actions to ensure underrepresented groups are included among entertainers.
“We use imagery featuring diverse employees in our recruitment materials to encourage a more inclusive applicant pool,” Sheahan outlines. “We proactively partner with and advertise through organizations that support job seekers from underrepresented groups. [And] we’ve established diversity and inclusion taskforces comprised of individuals from diverse backgrounds. These taskforces help shape and inform the actions we take to promote diversity among our entertainers.”
Rothschild also suggests attractions look outside their normal channels for talent. “We tend to choose talent based upon popularity, but maybe there are channels in which you would look for talent that’s outside of the norm that may be a little bit unique, that may be different,” he explains. “So, look outside of your normal channels to search for...hidden gems.”
Learn the Differences Between Diversity and Inclusion
While it’s one thing to have diversity in a park’s entertainment staff, Brown says that does not mean new team members will automatically feel included.
“There’s a big difference between diversity and inclusion—we just throw them all together,” she explains. “Diversity is...the who, the representation. The inclusion of that diversity in the sourcing, vetting, evaluation, curation process that precedes who the audience sees on that stage. Ideally, you don’t just have diversity of staff—you include that staff in thinking about who do we need to put up in front of our audiences? How are our audiences changing and who do they want to see? And then, where will we go to find those people?”
“The point is not just staff demographics and diversity,” Brown adds. “It’s the inclusion of new voices and new identities in the decision-making processes, in the sourcing processes, in the criteria and the evaluation of talent.”