BBC's 'Black and British' Season of Programming Celebrate Black People in the UK
BBC’s ‘Black and British’ Season of Programming Celebrate Black People in the UK

Nearly a year after the BBC launched its ambitious strategy to hardwire diversity into everything the BBC does, today the world’s oldest national broadcasting company has unveiled the results of its recent and most comprehensive staff census that shows the BBC has met its 2017 diversity targets – and is well on the way to hitting its 2020 goals; from the BBC Press Office:

— 14.5% of the BBC’s workforce are from black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds, including more than 10% of those in leadership positions.
— Over 48% of the BBC’s staff are women – approaching the 50% target set for 2020.
— Over 10% identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender.
— More than 10% of staff have a disability – already ahead of the goal for 2020.

Speaking at the Creative and Cultural Skills annual conference, Director-General of the BBC, Tony Hall, welcomed the progress, while also emphasizing that there’s still work to be done: “Getting the very best at the BBC means making sure we draw on all of the country’s diverse talent. Ours is already one of the most diverse workforces in the UK – as far as we know, we’re more diverse than any other major broadcaster, more diverse than the civil service, more diverse than any FTSE100 company that reports its figures. But the targets we have set ourselves to reach by 2020 are among the most ambitious and stretching of any organisation. For the BBC, it’s right that that’s the case.”

He added: “We know there’s plenty more to do – and no room for complacency. So we’re looking at how we can go further. For me, one of the real priorities is to get more women, and more people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, into our most senior leadership positions.”

Some of the schemes established as part of the BBC’s diversity and inclusion strategy have delivered clear results, the broadcaster says.

Per the press release, more than 30 interns from black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds joined the company through its Creative Access scheme, with more than three quarters becoming members of BBC staff. Five of the six individuals who joined the first Clore Leadership program are in roles at the BBC, with one becoming an executive editor for BBC Africa. This year the program has been expanded to include candidates with a disability.

On air the BBC says it’s also made big strides in reflecting the full diversity of the UK, creating content that is as diverse as BBC audiences expect – including “The Black and British” season (we featured most of the documentary lineup on this blog here), and programs from “Muslims Like Us,” “World Hip Hop News” to the “Instant Gardener.”

Programs like “Will Britain Ever Have A Black Prime Minister?” on BBC Two have looked in depth at the experiences of black people in Britain today, and “Call The Midwife” has put challenging stories about disability and ethnicity at the front and center of Sunday night viewing.

At BBC Three, emerging and diverse talent continue to be given a platform, with the upcoming “Five By Five” series of shorts and “The Break,” which showcases five up-and-coming writers from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

Tony Hall also highlighted the BBC’s progress in improving social mobility. He highlighted the growth in apprenticeships from 37 in 2012 to 230 this year, with an aim to have more than 400 by 2018.

He also singled out the work of the Radio One Academy’s program of events and workshops designed to give young people the information, tools and inspiration they need to succeed in a creative career; and the initiative to have Young Ambassadors at BBC North – young people from the local area with no qualifications and little or no experience in a working environment – but plenty of ideas and potential.

He said: “We want to inspire, support, and champion young people, wherever they are. And we want to create fair access for graduates and non-graduates alike, so that both routes can pave the way equally to success in our industry.”