David White

Men are stepping up to join the SeeHer movement. For today’s blog, we had a powerful conversation with SAG-AFTRA’s dynamic chief David White about how male executives in positions of power and influence can help create a bias-free future for women and girls.

How can men help build a bias-free future? By embodying the changes that need to be made through actions, not words.

There is an abundance of evidence that clearly indicates that elevating women is the key to uplifting children, strengthening families and improving societies. It is a moral imperative that we, as men, hold ourselves accountable to take action to do exactly that – to see women in the full light of their potential and strength, and that we take the steps to ensure nothing stops their rise as they put their natural talents to work.  This is about basic human dignity.  Even more, it should be clear to all by now that everything around us gets better when we learn to do this.  We have the chance to make the world a better place for all of us, and we should take every opportunity to do so.

Over the past few years, we’ve heard proclamations across our industry about gender equality. Several companies have put themselves on the line by committing to a 50-50 staff or some percentage of the workforce that will be female, and holding themselves accountable. Unions, guilds, and advocacy groups, including SAG-AFTRA, are publicly willing to enact gender equality measures by strengthening empowerments and protections for women throughout the industry. Still, a great deal needs to be done. And men can play a pivotal role in that effort.

Many of the people who greenlight productions—producers and executives in entertainment and advertising—are still not where they need to be, and the cultures of many companies and organizations continue to marginalize women. Unless there’s representation with decision-makers, nothing will change. We need more women in leadership positions who can then make the hiring decisions for writers, directors, casting, etc. in order to create a chain-reaction throughout the pipeline of the entertainment industry, and men also need to help to make that change.

SAG-AFTRA takes this issue seriously.  Our top three elected positions in the union are currently filled by women, and this is the second election cycle in a row when this has been the case.  Our President, Gabrielle Carteris, and our Board of Directors have been powerful advocates for the empowerment of women in the media.  Fifty percent of my direct reports – those who make up the executive leadership team of SAG-AFTRA – are women.  More broadly, women hold a large percentage of the decision-making positions on our staff overall, and I personally mentor several women who are learning how to become fantastic bosses and great professionals in this competitive industry.  We can always do more but I’m pleased that SAG-AFTRA is working hard to do our part.  It’s why we support efforts like the SeeHer movement.

I have always had strong women as mentors and role models in my life — my mother was a very powerful woman.  I am motivated to have a world that reflects that, a world that is fair and equitable. I also am a father to an 11-year-old girl filled with power, force and curiosity. She is right at the age where she is shapeshifting and could go in a hundred different directions with her life. When she does choose her path, I want her to do so in a society where the only thing in her way is her willingness to do the work to get there. I want the world to receive what she will be able to contribute in her life, and I want the same for other people’s daughters. When my daughter is grown, I want her to be able to say that her father helped to make the world a more equitable place for her and other women.