WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon took part in an interview this week where she discussed diversity and inclusion in the company.
Speaking with AdAge, McMahon was asked how WWE is addressing diversity and inclusion in the wake of George Floyd’s death and whether they’ve taken any action since releasing a statement last month saying they condemn racism.
Stephanie first pointed to how the company has amplified the messages of talent in the company who are raising awareness. This includes Big E and Kofi Kingston wearing arm bands in tribute to slain victims of racial injustice, Keith Lee wearing “Black Lives Matter” gear and supporting Titus O’Neil’s love walk with Dave Bautista.
McMahon also says WWE corporate has a number of programs aimed at dealing with educating employees about these topics and that they work with a diversity and inclusion recruiting agency.
“But we’re really taking a hard look and a different look, from every level, and support it throughout our company. From the top down. Including our board,” she said. “We are absolutely taking this very seriously, as we should. As everybody should. Because it’s going to take every single person to enact change.”
Stephanie is then asked how WWE works to make sure different voices are represented in WWE.
McMahon notes that roughly forty percent of the champions in WWE right now are African American and that she believes representation is critical, including women’s representation.
“I think that that representation is absolutely critical and you need to have it at every level,” she added. “You need to make sure diversity is real. And it’s not just representation, but that those voices are really heard, and that those voices matter. Because at the end of the day, all of these different experiences that people have, that’s what’s gonna bring us together to create the best possible society and the best possible company.”
Senior editor Jeanine Poggi mentions brands taking a look at their own branding and names – such as the Redskins, Mrs. Butterworth and Eskimo Pies – and asks if WWE is looking at their own characters to see if they are stereotypical or not.
“We’re looking at everything. From a storyline perspective. From a character perspective. From an employee perspective. We really are because, again, like I just said, representation matters. Also that our talent’s voices are heard. So when we’re crafting characters in WWE, it’s not just ‘hey, you’re going to be this particular character and that’s it and you have no say in the matter. Here’s your script and that’s it.’ Our Superstars have the opportunity to give their feedback. They help us create the character. They help with what they’re saying. And we have had instances where we’ve had talent say, ‘Listen, this doesn’t feel good to me.’ African American talent say, ‘this doesn’t feel good to me.’ This was actually pre-George Floyd, but that those conversations happen. And I think they’re important.”
“And you can’t be afraid to have those conversations. You have to be willing to listen. You have to be willing to admit that you just might not know something. You might not understand each other. And the only way we’re ever gonna learn from each other is if we truly listen and value each other’s feedback.”
Watch the video below.