The 2021 Women of the Year Awards: Equity and Inclusion Champion – Winner

Jennifer Twiner McCarron, CEO of content studio Thunderbird Entertainment, promotes diversity and inclusion on- and offscreen.

Equity and Inclusion Champion: Winner
Jennifer Twiner McCarron
CEO, Thunderbird Entertainment

Jennifer Twiner McCarron is enjoying an awards run akin to that of mid-1990s Tom Hanks. The revered actor reeled off back-to-back Best Actor wins at the Academy Awards in ’94 and ’95 for his work in Philadelphia and Forrest Gump, respectively.

It’s not quite as hallowed territory, but soon after her company picked up this magazine’s Business of Good Award for Diversity and Inclusion from a separate, independent panel of judges, Twiner McCarron takes another inclusion-oriented honour.

What makes Vancouver-based Thunderbird Entertainment and its CEO so worthy of recognition? The answer can be found in the internal and external operations of the 1,000-person content studio. On the former, some 45 percent of the team is female (another 45 percent is male, while 10 percent identify as gender-fluid).

“We really want to make sure that each and every voice is heard and honoured and that no one feels like a number,” says Twiner McCarron, who has worked at Thunderbird since 2011. “And that we create a culture of excellence where people feel safe to innovate and safe to make mistakes. When you make mistakes, innovation will arise.”

Externally, Thunderbird is proud of shows that highlight characters from diverse backgrounds, like Kim’s Convenience, Queen of the Oil Patch and Molly of Denali, which it worked with some 60 actors, writers and producers from the eponymous Alaska region to produce. “We know we’re not saving whales, but we just want to do our little bit to make the world a better place with what we produce,” Twiner McCarron says. “I think it can provide such a happy space for people.”

Fast Company recognized Thunderbird last year as one of the world’s most innovative companies—largely due to its work in showcasing diversity in an industry that often struggles with it. “It starts with a mindset toward service leadership—we work for the people,” Twiner McCarron argues. “And diverse, inclusive companies do better. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s good for business.”