It is widely acknowledged that both Hollywood and the book publishing industries have a diversity problem. PW’s annual salary survey indicated that approximately 80% of the book business is white, and accordingly, a relatively small number of books are produced that represent the broader racially and ethnically mixed audience of readers. “The Cooperative Children’s Book Center looked at 3,700 books, and of those 340 had representations of African-Americans, 320 of Asian-Americans, 216 of Latinos, and 72 of the indigenous population,” said Jennifer Baker, author and creator of the Minorities in Publishing podcast, during the “Diversity and Dollars” panel discussion at the New York Rights Fair on Thursday. “And of those books, just 122 were created by African-American authors or illustrators and just 38 by Native Americans.”

This relative paucity of titles is the result of lack of support for these books at the highest level of the industry, said Zareen Jaffery, executive editor at Simon & Schuster Children’s books. “There aren’t enough books out there to support the huge audience for them. And even when we are talking about books that we think have huge potential, they are not getting the galvanized support of the gatekeepers.”

Jaffery, who was raised in Connecticut and is Muslim, said she was “groomed to navigate in a white world,” but decided early on to “weaponize her privilege.” The decision is what led her into publishing: “As one of the co-founders of Salaam Reads [a S&S imprint], which focuses on Muslim kids, our goal was really to highlight the way that we all come from a variety of backgrounds,” she said. Although, she added, one cannot view the concept of diversity through too narrow a lens: “Once we start to display the diversity within the diversity that will show what things are really like.”

For her part, Judith Curr, president and publisher of Harper One, Amistad, and Rayo, pointed out that she made it part of her mission early on to publish work by marginalized voices, starting with Zane, who went on to sell four million of copies. “She was a powerhouse and allowed me to show [the publishing industry] that I could sell those books,” said Curr. Today, Curr said that the potential is even bigger, as social media has made access to a broader range of readers much easier and, vice versa, it has also given audiences access to publishers. “Audiences have more power than ever before, and if you don’t have the books they want, you won’t stay in business much longer,” she said. “ Self publishing and social media ahas put pressure on the gatekeepers to pay attention.”

Hollywood, too, is struggling to respond to the need for more representative work to hit screens. The success of the movie Black Panther proved that there was an audience that would buy tickets to see a black superhero. “Forty-five percent of movie tickets are bought by people of color, but we only make up 38% of the population,” said Tabitha Watkins, executive and motion picture agent with Creative Artist Agency. “And now, suddenly, with the popularity of Black Panther, every one of my African-American writing clients is booked up through 2019.”

In the movie industry, the Asian-American community faces a particularly high hurdle. “Sure, later this summer we’ll see Crazy Rich Asians in theaters” said Nancy Wang Yuen, sociologist and author of Reel Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism. “But there hasn’t been another big feature film focused on an Asian-American since The Joy Luck Club, which came out fifteen years ago.”

Everyone agreed that there has been some progress in bringing more diversity into the movie and book businesses, but they also agreed that it was a work in progress and there was a danger in seeing it as a short-term project. “I don’t see this as a trend—I see this as about educating the retailers and the gatekeepers,” said Curr. “Where the money is, the people will follow. No one group is big enough to sustain all businesses by themselves. We’ve got to get everyone buying into it.”