Published on: 28 May 2020 in Industry

BBC commit to hardwiring diversity into creative decision making, production values and content

Reading time: 3 minutes and 20 seconds

For over five years, Directors UK has been campaigning for increased directorial diversity in UK broadcasting.

We’ve also been tracking the progress of (and applying pressure to) the broadcasters through our Who’s Calling the Shots and Adjusting the Colour Balance reports. 

Our campaign work continues and is guided by our Access and Inclusion committee. As part of this work, we welcome the announcement by the BBC Director General Tony Hall and their Director of Creative Diversity June Sarpong about their plans to initiate culture change to support greater diversity across their supply chain, rather than bolting diversity initiatives onto existing structures. 

Specific details of how the change will work are still to emerge, but their approach is reported to be focused on six principles: Renew, Invest, Value, Empower, Reward and Sponsorship. You can read more about their approach here. 

But what does launch this mean for directors? 

  • The BBC are creating an industry-wide database, so production talent is visible to hiring producers and executives. No longer will producers be able to say ‘we can’t find them’. Directors UK is exploring how the BBC might utilise our Find a Director system in this process to access untapped talent and so we encourage all members to log into the website and ensure their listing is up to date. Also we anticipate that directors will be asked to self-declare diversity characteristics they are happy to share in order to be included in this work.
  • The BBC will be offering new career development opportunities to underrepresented production talent, including pairing them with senior leadership sponsors. There’s no details on this yet about what roles are covered or when the programme starts, but Directors UK will be pushing to ensure access to these opportunities is fair and transparent, and for the BBC to report on the career outcomes and impact.
  • It’s likely the BBC will reward execs for hiring diversely; the launch indicated that diversity will be linked to performance reviews and rewards in order to incentivise inclusive hiring choices. As this is not a genre-specific action, directors from diverse backgrounds should expect to be genuinely considered for more and varied projects across all areas.
  • Disabled directors should also benefit from “…a concerted drive to support disabled production talent into roles which grow their careers…to include freelancers and suppliers…to create a greater pool of off-screen disabled talent.”

Arguably the most important part of their approach though, is the ‘belonging blueprint’. This has been developed with outside experts to make production environments more transparent and will introduce production accountability for hiring and inclusive culture. The blueprint comprises of: 

  • Internal audits that measure diversity progress and provides production transparency
  • Short and longterm targets for inclusion goals appropriate to community norms
  • A culture shifting strategy to foster cultural empathy in production
  • Establishing a culture of well-being and belonging in production, that supports positive mental health and makes diverse programme makers welcome

Directors UK will be liaising with the BBC to see how we might influence positive and inclusive hiring practices to support producers in meeting hiring targets. In recent months we have been working with several industry bodies to collate best practice in this area and are well placed to offer assistance. We will also be pushing to have access to the audit reporting, to understand where best practice is being delivered and where extra help from Directors UK will be of value.

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