MPSE Wavelength

Fall 2020

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Page 79 of 81

80 I M PS E . O R G There's a problem with that myth of meritocracy. It assumes every person starts from the same set of circumstances—economic, geographic, educational, social, race, gender, sexuality, physicality. For a myriad of reasons, these characteristics can restrict entry into our field and make it nigh on impossible to forge a career. Access to education and then meeting living expenses while doing an entry-level job is not an option for everyone. Of course, we need a lot of hard work, talent, dedication, and a dash of luck to achieve in this industry, but accepting that the playing field isn't level for everyone doesn't invalidate that. Perhaps the most powerful motivator for anyone to pursue a career is a role model or mentor who gives someone the confidence to say, 'I could do that.' Role models for those joining our industry need to be outstanding sound professionals of all backgrounds. People whose social circles interact with those offering opportunities inside a fairly closed industry are at a distinct advantage. There's a safety in hiring people who look like you, who know the people you know, whose immediate culture is closely aligned to yours. Given that many opportunities aren't advertised publicly is that how we want to continue as an industry? For me personally, it's not enough to shrug the shoulders and carry on. Those of us in a position to bring in interns and employees should make sure we are casting the net wider than we used to in the past. It means organisations like AMPS reaching out much further than we have in the past to contribute to change. There is a delicate balance between offering a way in for new members to grow in the industry and making sure the high standards of membership are met. There is no value in a badge of honour such as adding the letters AMPS, MPSE, or CAS after your name if it is open to all. But are we making sure that door is open in the right way? Does it inherently favour certain people? It's a topic which is important for all industry organisations to consider and in AMPS we altered our entry requirements for Full Membership from four sponsors to two in order to make sure social connections were not paramount. This will continue to be under scrutiny to help bring in new talent, remove any potential barriers while still reserving full membership for those who make the highest professional grade. It's a very fine balance to strike. AMPS recently established a Change Committee to look at how we work as an association and push forward to the future. The first thing that committee has done is a detailed members survey, so we can establish exactly who we are and where we come from. From there, we can measure how well we are doing at welcoming and retaining a more diverse membership. The next stages will be worked out in the coming months and years, but I am excited to keep building on the work done by AMPS and be involved in ongoing change in our industry. I want to end by sending my best wishes to all of you in these trying times, and I hope to meet you in the future if I haven't already. being demanding, or be daunted by contractual commitments for credit to be given to others. But gentle, strong, clear voices in support of this idea will eventually change minds, and it starts with us all being upfront about how we would like to be credited. That will require going outside of our comfort zones. Sound people need to be louder. WORK IN PROGRESS As much as we try to control things, they can often get away from us, whether that's the weather, a recut, global events, a changed release date, or an actor that delivers their performance in a certain way. As a resourceful and adaptable group of people, we deal with it and still make amazing things happen in the audience's imagination. After all those uncontrollable events, we do ultimately get the satisfaction of a release or transmission date, and we move on to the next project when the time and money says so. I think most people like that finality, I certainly do. Leading AMPS since 2018, I've had to think more in terms of continual work in progress. One of those works in progress is responding to how few women, people of colour, and people with disabilities work in our field. When I first joined AMPS Council six years ago, there was a general view that because we admit new members on merit alone, we were above reproach. How could AMPS be part of a diversity problem when we are a meritocracy? And I believed in that view at that time. It's very easy to think to yourself, "Well, I have never been racist or sexist or denied anyone an opportunity, so it's not my fault." AMPS recently established a Change Committee to look at how we work as an association and push forward to the future.

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