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BBC director-general labels diversity drive as ‘mission critical’

By Tom Horton, PA
·2 min read

The BBC’s director-general has described plans to improve diversity at the broadcaster as “mission critical”.

On Thursday the corporation announced plans aimed at increasing the diversity of its workforce and improving the portrayal of under-represented groups on screen.

Director-general Tim Davie said in a livestreamed event which launched the plans that the move is “the right thing to do”.

BBC Stock
(Ian West/PA)

A new panel made up of people from inside and outside the broadcaster will help the BBC ensure it gives an authentic portrayal of disability.

There will also be investment in programmes aimed at progressing the careers of diverse talent, both on and off screen.

BBC teams will also hold regular sessions to meet audiences for in-depth sessions to inform commissioning decisions.

The plan also includes initiatives to show how local communities and businesses can work with BBC productions.

There will also be support for BBC teams and programme makers to improve their engagement with under-represented groups.

Mr Davie has previously said the broadcaster must achieve diversity targets for black, Asian and minority ethnic (20%) and disability (12%) representation in the workforce.

A gender balance target of 50:50 has also previously been set.

Speaking on Thursday, he said: “It’s a bold number, but it is not that bold because that’s where Britain’s going to be very quickly.

BBC Stock
(Ian West/PA)

“If you are not moving at that kind of speed, we have got a problem.”

He added: “We do need targets and, by the way, the BBC can sometimes be a bit tough on itself.

“We have seen real progress in certain areas. On screen there’s been outstanding work.”

Mr Davie added there needs to be a “rewiring of the core” of the BBC.

The plan will be supported by the BBC’s creative diversity unit, which was established last year with the appointment of June Sarpong as the BBC’s first director of creative diversity.

The BBC has previously committed to spending £100 million of its commissioning budget from April 2021 on diverse programming.