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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

BBC and ITN take the lead with new diversity schemes | Lisa Campbell

The issue of diversity continues to make the headlines. Not only did the festival welcome Keli Lee back from ABC to discuss her Diverse Talent Showcase (read part 2) but news emerged this week that both the BBC and ITN are launching new diversity schemes. Meanwhile the European Diversity Awards has crowned the BBC Academy’s Expert Women team Diversity Team of the Year.

Talk of a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) leadership and commissioning scheme has been rumbling on within the confines of the CDN (Creative Diversity Network) for some time with hopes that the major broadcasters would all sign-up. For now, however, only the BBC has committed to the idea and this week it welcomed applications from internal and external candidates.

The Senior Leadership Development Programme will offer six individuals the chance to work alongside DG Tony Hall and his executive team for 12 months.

Successful applicants to the scheme, organised in association with The Clore Leadership Programme, will start working at the BBC in the New Year.

Separately, the Assistant Commissioner Development Programme aims to find six “commissioners of the future” who will gain experience across entertainment, comedy, factual, daytime, children’s programming, as well as across BBC2 and BBC4.

BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore, who appeared on the TV Festival’s diversity panel, said: “It’s crucial for the BBC and other broadcasters to broaden the range of voices and backgrounds at commissioning level.”

The BBC has made a welcome first move, recognising that more diversity behind the camera will have a positive impact on the range of ideas, content and talent on-screen.

More welcome news, this time from ITN, which announced a new internship scheme targeting eight candidates from socially- and ethnically-diverse backgrounds for an 18-month placement.
The ITN Academy Digital Media Apprenticeship targets non-graduates to help them “learn through experience, with ongoing guidance and support, in a passionate, hard-working, team environment,” according to ITN chief executive John Hardie. “This is also our chance to perhaps find the next rising stars of ITN.”

And talking of rising stars, the BBC Academy’s Expert Women team has been instrumental in identifying and training a host of new female contributors, particularly across news and factual. Its efforts resulted in an award for Diversity Team of the Year at last week’s European Diversity Awards.

The lack of female voices on-air and on-screen was highlighted by Broadcast magazine in 2012, working with City University to monitor output. At the time, we heard the same complaint from broadcasters that we now hear about diverse talent, “we want more diverse voices, but we don’t know where to find them’.

The BBC Academy’s Donna Taberer and her team decided to do something about  that, launching a pilot scheme in January 2013 to uncover and train up females with specialist knowledge, whether engineers or crime epxerts. It was so successful, it led to further funding from the then acting DG Tim Davie and the programme was launched nationwide.

To date, there have been 374 media appearances by 73 of the Expert Women, across BBC news bulletins, CNN, Channel 4 and other outlets.

'Our winner tonight has made diversity and inclusion one of the strategic priorities of their company, and has enabled the company to have a diverse and inclusive culture,' said the judges.

'They have placed diversity as one of their long-term sustainability goals to attract, recruit and retain a highly talented, diverse and engaged workforce.'

Let’s hope these new schemes meet with similar success.