In 2017, Desroches led Turner to record profits and a $12.6 billion revenue boost. He’s also redefined the role of a modern CFO. “Technology has disrupted our industry, and there is no going back,” he says. “We view that as an opportunity. That is why I am so excited for Turner’s next chapter as part of WarnerMedia under John Stankey’s leadership. Together, with AT&T’s resources, we are a modern media company that will create the best entertainment and communications experiences in a way that no other media company can do.”
A February 2018 UCLA study revealed that of the 45 new scripted shows approved for 2017-18 across broadcast, cable and digital platforms, only four were from creators of color, all of whom were black. What is your reaction to this report?
The findings from UCLA’s Hollywood Diversity study were tough to digest, but a reminder of the work that we have to do as an industry to continue to see progress. As we have seen with the recent successes of films and shows that feature both gender and ethnic diversity, our audiences also want it.
At Turner, improving diversity, inclusion and representation both on and off the camera, remains a top priority for us. We are proud to have shows like Insecure, Ballers, Claws and The Last O.G. in our programming lineup and we continue to work on investing in the next generation of storytellers and leaders through partnerships with organizations like the American Black Film Festival, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and the Executive Leadership Council. It may take extra work but at the end of the day, it helps us make real and authentic stories that connect with our fans and reach new audiences.
In what areas should the industry step up its efforts with regard to diversity and inclusion?
While the cable industry has seen increased opportunities for women and people of color, there is still a long way to go before they are represented at levels that are comparable to our nation’s demographics.
One of the most important steps a company can take is to create a workplace where people of all backgrounds feel valued and are supported to thrive. At Turner, we have initiated programs like conscious inclusion and bold hiring to make sure we are bringing in the best and brightest employees and fostering a workplace where everyone is respected. Turner is a fan-engagement company – our fans are at the center of everything we do, so if we want to truly and deeply connect with our fans around the world to build community and a sense of belonging, then we have to be a genuine reflection of them.
On a personal level, I have always been committed to mentoring talent both inside the company and externally through organizations such as Prep for Prep and the Sundance Institute. I am very fortunate to have reached this level of my career in thanks to mentors like Jeff Bewkes, Dick Parsons, John Martin and John Stankey, so I always strive to do the same for others.
What’s been the most dramatic change in your sector of the business today vs. three years ago?
The biggest difference without a doubt has been the rapid change and evolution in the way people consume content. More TV content is being consumed than ever before, and on more platforms including mobile devices, home computers, the Internet and streaming services. Technology has disrupted our industry, and there is no going back. We view that as an opportunity. That is why I am so excited for Turner’s next chapter as part of WarnerMedia under John Stankey’s leadership. Together, with AT&T’s resources, we are a modern media company that will create the best entertainment and communications experiences in a way that no other media company can do.