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Why are certain Netflix shows always trending? Execs say the answer is diversity

May 25, 2022, 8:15 PM UTC

Senior design leaders at Netflix say having a diverse team made their direct reports more comfortable, encouraged innovation, and suggested how other companies can rethink who and how they hire.

When Spanish teen drama Elite debuted on the streaming platform a few years ago, the onscreen romance between Omar and Ander—two of the main characters—resonated deeply with fans and the show went viral.

Speaking at Fortune‘s Brainstorm Design conference in Brooklyn, N.Y. on Tuesday, Rochelle King, vice president of creative production at Netflix, explained how her team is responsible for creating content that represents storylines, ensuring that they develop media that resonates with Netflix users. 

King recalled that two people on her team noticed Elite‘s popularity and started creating artwork representing that storyline. 

“The two folks that were working on it were two folks from the LGBTQ community. I’m not part of that community, so I wouldn’t have seen this trending on Twitter. But because they were, they actually saw something which authentically resonated with them as something they wanted to share and amplify to the world,” she explained.

The image’s popularity also helped Netflix’s business as it increased viewership for the show, which consistently ranks in Netflix’s top 10 most popular programs of the moment whenever a new season comes out. 

But what might be most striking is that these employees never actually their idea by King. She said her team is inclusive to the point that her direct reports feel confident enough to take the initiative.

Steve Johnson, vice president of design Netflix, agreed and shared that having a diverse team brought success to both King’s team and the company. “When you have diverse teams, that just happens. You will never not know if for some reason the artwork didn’t do well because that wasn’t done.”

According to Johnson, making a company more diverse begins with how we search for talent and looking in a different way and in different areas. “We need people in the room that represent our audiences,” he said.

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