BBC Plans to Accelerate Diverse Representation

The work builds on the Creative Diversity Commitments made earlier in the year, and will be supported by the Creative Diversity Unit, under June Sarpong, the BBC’s first Director of Creative Diversity.

Among the plans, which will feature in a wide ranging report published next week, the BBC is announcing:

  • 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
  • Support for our teams and programme makers to have greater connection and engagement with our audiences, especially those from underrepresented groups
  • Providing our commissioners and producers with further tools that supports their editorial decisions around the diversity agenda, developed in partnership with BBC Audiences
  • Investment in diverse talent both on and off screen through bespoke progression programmes
  • Working with existing industry partners to explore a central diverse talent database
  • Initiatives to support how local talent and businesses can work with BBC productions across the UK

These ambitious plans enhance the BBC’s continued investment in diversity and notable success in improving on screen representation. In the last 12 months, this has included I May Destroy You, Small Axe, Crip Tales and extensive coverage of the 25th Anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act.

The forthcoming Creative Diversity Plan is complementary to the BBC’s commitment to building a truly diverse and inclusive culture for staff, and a new Diversity and Inclusion Strategy to follow in early 2021, which will set a gold standard for inclusion at the BBC as well as provide more detail on the 50:20:12 targets.

Tim Davie, BBC’s Director-General says: “Diversity and inclusion is mission-critical for the BBC. It’s a central component of our mission to provide value to all audiences.

“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.”

Throughout 2020 the Creative Diversity Unit has delivered a body of work including a series of virtual events which have brought together leading creatives to discuss solutions to inclusion.

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.

The Creative Diversity Plan will support the BBC’s teams and output across four main areas.

Engaging audiences

Better reflecting, engaging and understanding audiences in a number of ways:

  • Our teams will more regularly meet audiences in intimate in-depth sessions, to help build empathy and inform commissioning decisions. The sessions will be structured to facilitate more meaningful interactions than are currently possible in a traditional focus group setting. They will take place via video conference until in person meetings are possible
  • BBC Audiences are developing a toolkit, which will include:
    – Quarterly stimulus packages that contain clips of content, social media and marketing that the BBC’s underserved audiences are spending time with. The videos will incorporate commentary and audience insight to inform a better understanding of representation and diversity
    – An online community of diverse audiences, which all creative teams at the BBC will be able to access
    – Representative diverse archetypes to help move away from some stereotyping in characters and inform more nuanced on-screen portrayal in storytelling

Investing in diverse talent

Investing in a diverse talent pipeline through:

  • Launching an internal Progression Programme for diverse Commissioners that will consist of stretching and profile-raising opportunities to help deliver the skills and experience required at a senior level, along with the necessary sponsorship from selected senior leaders
  • Broadening the remit and focus for the Creative Diversity and Inclusion Development Fund to include bespoke progression plans for identified individuals, in line with our 20% off-screen diverse production talent target

Leading cultural change

Working with partners to lead cultural change across the creative industry, including:

    • Working with existing industry partners to explore a central Diverse Talent Database, helping producers to meet the BBC’s 20% off-screen diverse production talent target
    • 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

Notes to editors

The BBC’s Creative Diversity Unit was established in November 2019 with the appointment of June Sarpong as the BBC’s first Director of Creative Diversity. Her team consists of six individuals, and an incoming Disability Lead will complete the unit. Their work this year has included:

  • Launching a toolkit to support the BBC’s creative staff and industry partners in prioritising diversity throughout creative decision making, culture and output. As part of this, the BBC worked with the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative to create a framework to help organisations evaluate how they’re doing and track progress as they work to improve diversity and inclusion within production
  • Expanding the BBC’s 50:50 Project methodology to include monitoring disability and ethnicity representation within programming against targets of 12% and 20% respectively
  • Hosting a number of virtual events: The Creative Diversity Dialogue hosted in partnership with the United Nations; The Creative Diversity Xperience (CDX), a two-day virtual festival which showcased the vibrancy, innovation and leadership of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic talent in the creative industry; and, Reframing Disability, a series of high-level conversations in conjunction with Valuable 500 and the Disabled Artists Networking Community (DANC) in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act
  • From April 2021 the BBC has committed to spending £100m of the existing commissioning budget on diverse programming, which will be supported by a mandatory 20% off-screen diverse talent target on all new network commissions
  • Launching the BBC’s Creative Ally Track Tool, backed global leaders from sectors including business, media, fashion and the arts, who have all signed up as Creative Ally Champions.

Source: BBC

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