7 October 2021

Playing our part in improving diversity in broadcasting

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Last week Ofcom hosted ‘All In’, a virtual event looking at the past, present and future of diversity in UK broadcasting. It included discussions, interviews and training sessions, all looking at practical ways to make broadcasting a more diverse and inclusive sector.

Leila Kurnaz, senior standards executive at Ofcom, reflects on the event and looks at the efforts being made across the industry to improve representation at all levels.

Last week, during National Inclusion Week, Ofcom launched our Diversity in Broadcasting five-year review.

We also staged our diversity event, ‘All In’ - a fantastic day featuring engaging and insightful discussions, with views from across the industry. We heard from on screen talent, writers, producers, diversity experts and employees who are experiencing important issues at the sharp end, as they progress within the industry.

You can watch highlights of the event below.

Looking at the journey of this programme of work and where it has taken us, it’s important to reflect on whether things will ever really change across the industry. I truly believe they will – and they must. The industry is now invested in this change, and is deeply aware that there is a creative imperative to do so. But for now, there is still much work to do. We can’t lay down our tools and go home just yet - but what we can now see are the small shoots of change bursting from the soil.

While there’s still some way to go, our data collection over the past five years has allowed us to hold up a mirror to the broadcasters. Also, the conversations we are having in this space have grown and matured over the years, becoming much more collaborative. I remember the first meeting we had with all the major broadcasters together in a room - it resembled an odd game of poker with everyone keeping their cards close to their chests.

Fast forward a few years and we’re having regular constructive discussions with these same broadcasters.

Now they are creating their own networks and joint programmes to facilitate change. As we’ve always said, this agenda cannot be a competitive sport – only collaboration will win. And we believe this message is finally starting to permeate.

Our data collection programme has allowed us to shine a light on the areas where the industry needs to turn attention, together with our recommendations on how best to achieve that change. We’ve seen improvement in representation on screen and that’s great to see. Also, across the broadcasters’ workforces we’ve seen an increase in representation of employees from minority ethnic groups and a reduction in the gender gap of women at senior management level – but much more work needs to be done on diversifying senior management.

To do this the industry needs to shift its focus from only recruiting for diversity, to retaining, progressing and promoting its current workforce. There is a need for greater inclusivity to address the ‘revolving door’ situation which causes many people from under-represented groups to join the industry but then leave after a short time. So now we all roll up our sleeves and begin the hard work to create that inclusive culture across the industry.

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