According to Variety, ABC Entertainment today unveiled new inclusion standards for its primetime shows to increase the numbers of underrepresented minorities both on-screen and behind the scenes.

The initiative was spelled out in a letter sent to creatives and colleagues from Simran Sethi, ABC’s executive vice president of development and content strategy, who said it as designed to “ensure multidimensional representation across the entire creative and production process,” the trade publication said.

“These new guidelines are intended to make our content and our sets as inclusive as possible, and will serve as a further catalyst for real and sustained change,” Variety quotes Sethi as saying, “We want to take this moment to evaluate systems and habits in an effort to remove barriers to access and opportunity. It’s important for us to look around the room, see who’s not there, and then take the steps to not only bring them in but also set them up for success.”

According to Variety, the mandates include having 50 percent or more regular or recurring written characters from underrepresented groups along with their “meaningful integration” into the themes and storyline.

“ Similar criteria are asked of (the) below-the-line crew and creative leadership, including half or more of episodic directors or producer-and-above level writing staff coming from underrepresented groups,” Variety says.

The Walt Disney-owned network expects to meet these goals over the next few years.  

CBS has initiated a similar program to address concerns over diversity at their network.

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