Licensing International is rolling out an initiative designed to support underrepresented and diverse entrepreneurs. The Diversity & Inclusion Accelerator Program will connect growing companies with the resources they need to become profitable in the licensing industry.
Companies selected to participate will receive monthly mentoring meetings with industry leaders, enrollment in the Coursework in Licensing Studies professional certification program and a one-year Licensing International membership (collectively valued at around US$100,000). The program was developed by the organization’s IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Accessibility) Committee.
Eligible participants must be in the brand licensing business, though their companies can be either for-profit or non-profit. To be considered, applicants must be diverse in race, gender, sexual orientation, age or physical attributes.
This most recent effort to improve inclusion follows research showing that diverse voices are underrepresented in the licensing industry. An examination of Licensing International’s membership found that only 14% of member company CEOs are people of color, and only 24% are women.
“The findings of our study of diversity in the licensing community—conducted by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at Mount St. Mary’s University and released back in August—made it clear that there is still much work to be done in this regard,” said Licensing International president Maura Regan in a statement.
Applications for the Diversity & Inclusion Accelerator Program will be accepted until April 30, and selected participants will be announced on May 24.
This announcement is part of a recent wave of efforts to address a lack of diversity in the kids entertainment industry. Earlier this week, Aussie pubcaster ABC and government org Screen Australia announced they will invest in inclusive children’s programming with a new fund to support productions from culturally or linguistically diverse creators. And ViacomCBS International Studios launched a new strategy to invest 25% of its budget in LatAm to create and develop content highlighting marginalized characters and creators, a commitment that followed the global rollout in October of the company’s “no diversity, no commission” policy.