The future of inclusion: BBC reveals their Creative Diversity commitments on and off screen

Editor Lorne attended a BBC webinar to discover how the organisation is changing internally and within the industry to improve diversity representation.

Hosted by the BBC’s first Director of Creative Diversity, June Sarpong will be supporting the Creative Diversity Unit to ensure gender, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME), and disability is better represented both on and off screen within the BBC.

“Today, on International Day of People with Disabilities, and the 25th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act I am proud of the work the BBC is doing to represent disability,” enthuses June.

“Research is still coming through, but audience engagement is high and is changing perceptions of disability.”

CHANGES INTERNALLY

Actor and writer, Mat Fraser working on BBC Four production, Crip Tales Credit: BBC Pictures

When it comes to updating the BBC and ensuring the BBC is for everyone, the team is working to change from the ground up.

Speaking to Tim Davie, BBC’s Director-General comments: “We need to be relevant and show people that the BBC is for them.

“Unless you reshape at the heart, you wont give people what they want. And, simply, it is just the right thing to do.”

DISABILITY CONTENT PANEL

Today, June and the wider Creative Diversity team announced a new Disability Content Panel, made up of creatives with a lived experience of disability from inside and outside of the BBC who will work with the BBC’s Creative Diversity Unit to support authentic portrayal in the BBC’s output.

“How we respond to the challenge of creating a more inclusive organisation will determine whether the BBC can deliver value for all audiences into our future,” adds June.

“This feels particularly pertinent as we approach the BBC’s centenary in 2022.”

On and off screen, disability representation will make up 12 per cent within the new diversity plan.

Tim continues: “Across the BBC, our focus has been on making sure that everyone – across the UK, from all backgrounds and communities – can feel that the BBC is for them.

“It’s about being relevant to every part of society, and delivering value to every household.  We have a responsibility to reflect and serve all audiences.”

INDUSTRY ALLY

Xavier Alford in his recent BBC Four documentary looking at Guillain-Barré syndrome Credit: BBC Pictures

Last week the BBC launched the Ally Track Tool, which has been backed by global leaders from sectors including business, media, fashion and the arts, who have all signed up as Creative Ally Champions and pledged to use it within their organisations.

Joining the Ally Track, David Joseph, chief executive for Universal Music says: “People are in tune as a generation, and they will know if this is a tick box initiative.”

Liz Carr is well-known for appearing in BBC One’s Silent Witness Credit: BBC Pictures

Members can choose different ally roles to celebrate and integrate into their business, ranging from champions, confidant, advocate, upstander, and sponsor.

Alongside deciding what role to back in the Ally Track, organisation leaders can take a privilege test to see just how their differences from gender, background, ability has allowed them to get to positions they are currently in compared to someone who wouldn’t have the privileges to climb the ladder.

Q&A

Ending the discussion with a Q&A session, June and Tim revealed that plans will be in place within the next two years, with more plans released in January 2022.

Similarly, from April 2021, production companies will have to include 20 per cent protected characteristics and submit their data – and this will be non-negotiable.

Tim concludes: “This is a re-wiring at the core.”

To discover more about what the Creative Diversity team are doing, visit the BBC website here.