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BBC pledges to make its workforce more diverse

GOAL: The corporation wants to make its workforce more diverse by 2020

The BBC has said that it wants 15 per cent of its workforce to be drawn from BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) backgrounds for staff and leadership roles by 2020.

The pledge follows a Freedom of Information request by Broadcast magazine in March which revealed that only 12.2 per cent of its current staff are from BAME backgrounds which means the corporation is not hitting its previous 14.2 per cent target.

With its new targets, the BBC says it will ‘go further than ever before on targets for the representation of women, disabled people, ethnic minorities and LGBT people on and off air’.

A spokesperson said: “We are making good progress in our work to make the BBC a truly diverse organisation but there’s more to do and we’re always keen to improve. Almost half our workforce is made up of women, and the proportion of our workforce who are black, Asian and other ethnic minorities is at an all-time high.”

The spokesperson added: “Significant steps forward have been taken but it is important to us that the BBC is truly representative of all our audiences. We are the BBC and must be held to a higher standard.”

The BBC – along with other mainstream broadcasters – has previously been criticised by diversity campaigners for not having an ethnically representative workforce, on-screen or off-screen.


CRITICISM: Trevor Phillips highlighted the continued failure of broadcasters to reflect a multicultural Britain in a recent speech

Earlier this year, Trevor Phillips, the former chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission delivered a stinging attack on the continued failure of broadcasters to reflect an ethnically diverse Britain when he called BBC 2 ‘Britain’s whitest TV station’.

Speaking at the Oxford Media Convention, Phillips presented viewing data for ethnic minority audiences and said: “Shows which hark back to the Britain of my childhood, where people like me seemed to have no material presence – Downton Abbey, Broadchurch, Call The Midwife, Poldark – hold little appeal. Shows that have consistently integrated speaking casts where the black and brown faces aren’t there to be exotic or to explain their blackness or brownness – The Apprentice for example - win big amongst minorities.”

According Phillips’ ethnic minority viewing share analysis, “BBC2, which really should look a bit like Channel 4, is by some distance, Britain’s whitest TV station.”

At a debate on media diversity held at Goldsmiths College, University of London, last month, actor, writer and comedian Sir Lenny Henry called for the BBC to implement structural changes to help tackle what he called the “appalling” lack of BAME representation in the TV industry.


CHANGES NEEDED: Sir Lenny Henry

Henry called for money in the shape of Catalyst Funds to be written into the BBC Charter, the constitutional basis for the BBC, in a bid to help spread “diversity throughout the industry”.

Outlining his proposals, he said: “For a production to qualify as ‘diverse’ it would need to meet criteria: the number of on-screen BAME talent; the number of BAME senior production staff; the ‘general spend’ on BAME talent. If the money hits two of these criteria it would qualify for this money.”

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