While many businesses, guilds and unions across the country activated programs to address diversity in the past year, the impact of COVID job losses on women and women of color especially in the entertainment business — a fact that Women in Film’s Hire Her Back program addresses.
“Given our mission, we thought that we needed to shine a light on that and start talking about in a meaningful way,” says WIF executive director Kirsten Schaffer who along with board president Amy Baer conceived and launched the Hire Her Back initiative in June 2020. They wanted to build “a campaign around shining a light on the disproportionate number of women who lose their jobs first and get rehired last, and making sure that we were creating a resource that women in the entertainment industries could tap into to help them bridge some gaps financially.”
They also partnered with New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT) and Women in Film and Television Atlanta (WIFTA), and launched a fund to help women who were out of work.
ShivHans Pictures and Netflix helped with sees money, while Sony also gave WIF a “big grant,” says Schaffer.
“A big piece of why they gave us that grant had to do with the fact that we were looking to support our community, it wasn’t because like, ‘oh please help us because we can’t raise money this year to keep our lights on,’ ” Baer says. “It really was, ‘Wow, you’re looking at a need and trying to fill it.’ ”
And they also wanted to make sure to help women in the production hubs in the country as well. “There are women across the screen industries working in a multitude of cities, and we wanted them to be able to participate,” Baer says.
“The ethos of Hire Her Back is elemental and foundational to the organization as a whole. And so that phrasing of it isn’t as much just a catchy marketing phrase of making people pay attention, but the underlying meaning of it is something that we walk that talk. So much of our programming, so much of what we do as an organization is meant to promote the hiring of women across the screen industries in front of and behind the cameras.”