As the national broadcaster, it’s vital the BBC reflects those we serve – and that’s everyone. If we don’t look like the modern UK, we can’t represent it fully.
That’s why we take diversity and inclusion so seriously. And that’s why we’ve been so focused on making sure our doors are open more widely than ever before, to all of those who have the ambition and talent to thrive here.
It’s not just important to me – it’s something the Director-General, Tony Hall, feels passionately about as well. Ofcom and the Government are absolutely clear how big a priority it is for them too. It’s written into our Charter.
We know we’re already diverse – more so than other broadcasters, major FTSE companies and the civil service. But we’ve also acknowledged there is much more we need to do – further we need to go. That’s why last year we set ourselves new, stretching targets for what our workforce should look like in 2020 – on air, off air, and in leadership positions.
Now, we have conducted the most wide-ranging survey of our staff to ensure we’ve got the best data about how we’re doing. And it shows real progress.
It shows we’ve met the workforce targets we wanted to achieve by the end of 2017 – more than 10% of our workforce identifies as LGBT and more than 10% disclosed a disability, which exceeds our targets. 14.5% of our workforce are from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups which means we are on track to meet our 2020 target of 15% and 48.2% are women, just shy of our 2020 target of 50%.
It also shows the action we’ve taken is having an impact. Creating more apprenticeships has been vital to making the BBC accessible to people from all backgrounds, and we’ve gone from having 37 apprentices in 2012 to more than 230 this year – and we’re aiming to have more than 400 by 2018.
Our Creative Access scheme brings in interns specifically from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds into the organisation to gain vital experience, while we’ve opened up entry-level trainee and apprenticeship roles for those with disabilities. We’re also running schemes to support those from underrepresented groups with mentoring to help them move on to the next stage of their career – and giving them experience in leadership roles. More than half of those on the BBC News Leadership programme are women – helping them reach the top.
I’m proud of that – but certainly not complacent. There’s much more still to do. Seeing more women and people from black, Asian and visible ethnic minority backgrounds in senior leadership positions is a priority.
It’s not just who we employ though – we said we needed to do better on air as well, and we’ve made big strides there too.
We’ve run an Assistant Commissioner development programme which has led to content that is as diverse and brilliant as BBC audiences expect – including the Black and British season, and programmes from Muslims Like Us, World Hip Hop News to the Instant Gardener.
Programmes like Will Britain Ever have a Black Prime Minister? have looked in depth at the experiences of black people in Britain today, Employable Me followed people with neurological conditions seeking jobs. BBC Three continues to give a platform to a wide range of emerging and diverse talent, and EastEnders and Holby City have long been at the forefront for LGBT issues, with Eastenders winning a Special Pink Award last year in recognition.
We have a great record – but there’s further to go. Our targets aren’t just for our workforce – they’re on air as well. So by 2020, across all genres from drama to news, half of lead roles should be women, and there are stretching targets for portrayal of disabled people, those from black and ethnic minority backgrounds, as well as LGBT.
With high quality training, development and by casting the net wider than ever we’re making a difference.
Some argue we pay too much attention to becoming more diverse. I fundamentally disagree. A BBC which truly represents the UK is better for creativity and leads to a better BBC. For everyone.