Stephen Colbert Shares the Simple Hiring Process That Led to an 'Extraordinary' Writers Room

The host and comedian reveals how his thinking had to change to create an inclusive workplace.
Stephen Colbert Shares the Simple Hiring Process That Led to an 'Extraordinary' Writers Room
Image credit: CBS Photo Archive | Getty Images
Entrepreneur Staff
Staff Writer. Covers leadership, media, technology and culture.
2 min read

So much of hiring comes down to the leveraging of existing relationships and who has access to a given opportunity. Even if an inclusive workplace is your goal, it won’t happen without deliberate action on the part of you and your HR team, especially if the industry you are in has a long history of not prioritizing having a diverse pool of applicants.

If you look at the history of late night TV hosts, it’s a group that has very similar backgrounds: white male comedians in their 40s and 50s. There is a very good chance that their name is a variation on James.

Related: Stephen Colbert Tries to Figure Out if Elon Musk Is a Superhero or Something More Sinister (VIDEO)

In a recent TimesTalk conversation, Stephen Colbert spoke candidly about the mindset shift he needed to make sure that a variety of voices were being represented in The Late Show’s writers room. He admitted that he had been naive to think that a traditional process would result in what he described as an unusual, extraordinary room.

“It wasn’t until we said, no please, don’t send us anyone but women. Because we would say, you know it’s very important, we want writers of color, we want women, and you would get 150 packets and there would be eight women,” Colbert recalled. "And we’re like, ‘God, that’s so frustrating.’ Until I said no, only women, and then I got 87 women. … And now [the writers room is] half, you know, white guys and half either women or writers of color.”

What steps do you take to recruit outside your usual hiring channels?

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