June Sarpong sets out her vision for Creative Diversity at the BBC


BBC Arts

The BBC’s Director of Creative Diversity June Sarpong has committed to hardwire diversity and inclusion throughout the BBC - within its creative decision making, production values and content.

As laid out in the BBC’s Annual Plan, diversity and inclusion is a top priority for the BBC. This mission statement on International Day of Diversity reaffirms the BBC’s ambition to lead the way on diversity by establishing best practice for the wider creative industry.

A series of initiatives, announced today and welcomed by Ofcom, include:

Establishing guidance and tools to help the BBC’s creative staff and industry partners ensure diversity and inclusion is at the heart of production

Launching a framework for auditing, setting targets and evaluating results within production to underpin the BBC’s broader Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) policies

Bringing the broadcasting industry together with audiences through the Creative Diversity Festival
The Creative Diversity Unit will publish a new strategy over the summer to support these initiatives. Later this year the BBC will also publish a detailed Diversity Commissioning Code of Practice report at the same time as the Annual Report and Accounts, and later a new workplace D&I strategy, to cover the period from 2021 to 2023.

The announcement comes ahead of the Creative Diversity Dialogue, an hour-long discussion hosted on LinkedIn Live at 5pm today about how to ensure diversity and inclusion is at the heart of plans to recover better from the COVID-19 pandemic. Led by BBC’s Director General, Tony Hall and the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Amina J Mohammed the discussion will include contributions from June Sarpong, and leading experts in diversity and inclusion.

June Sarpong, BBC’s Director of Creative Diversity, says: “The BBC’s ambition is to lead the way on diversity. But it’s very important we work and learn from others - both within the broadcasting industry and in the wider world. The steps we have announced today aim to set a gold standard, which we will share with anyone who wants it. My vision is for the work, insight and application of the BBC’s Creative Diversity team to flow through the veins of the entire industry.”

Vikki Cook, Ofcom’s Director of Content and Media Policy, says: “Diversity is crucial to authentic storytelling, and we’ve been urging broadcasters to widen their pool of creative talent to ensure audiences of all backgrounds are reflected both on and off-screen. We’re encouraged by the BBC’s vision for creative diversity and inclusion and look forward to seeing how its strategy progresses.”

Toolkit for BBC staff

The toolkit launched today for the BBC’s creative staff and industry partners aims to prioritise diversity throughout creative decision making, culture and output.

It focuses on six areas:

Renew: BBC creative teams will shake up how they search for and source talent and create an industry-wide talent database. We will enlist search teams with different backgrounds in the sourcing and commissioning process, and consider working with partners who can either guide or provide access to untapped talent pools

Invest: The BBC will further strengthen our culture of listening and responding. We will use these findings to invest appropriately in career development so all talent can progress and thrive
Value: Everyone at the BBC must understand the value of diversity. We will develop plans that are inclusive and everyone understands why diversity is valuable, not just at a strategic level but also in the creative process

Empower: Everyone at the BBC must believe they have the permission to tell their stories and be heard. By celebrating diversity we will generate a feeling of belonging for all

Reward: The BBC will give credit to individuals in a meaningful way. Recognition is crucial, as it encourages innovative thinking and allows inclusion

Sponsorship: The BBC will pair diverse talent with senior sponsors, through a creative sponsorship programme, to help develop careers

Framework for audit and evaluation

The BBC has also worked with the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, led by Dr. Stacy L. Smith at the University of Southern California, 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.

The 'Belonging Blueprint’ covers five areas:

Developing internal audits
Setting target inclusion goals
Creating culture shifting strategy and criteria
Implementing and evaluating actions
Establishing well-being and belonging

These provide the necessary processes that must be in place for larger diversity and inclusion policies to be successful. They are designed to account for differences in TV and film production, and to build on existing efforts by broadcasters, production companies, and individuals in order to create lasting change. The Blueprint process can be used by teams prior to enacting a policy, such as the forthcoming Diversity Commissioning Code of Practice to govern productions and staffing.

The aim is for the Belonging Blueprint to be implemented across the BBC’s global content supply chain.

The work draws on the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative’s expertise that is based on academic research and its industry-leading work to craft solutions to inequality.

It also strengthens the BBC’s work to create equity across its global content programming, such as the 50:50 Project, a voluntary system of self-monitoring that began in one small team in the newsroom and has grown across global media. It uses data, transparency and peer group dynamics to drive performance and cultural change. It now covers 600 teams, over 4,000 producers and content creators, from across the BBC – from news, content, radio and music to the nations and regions. It has already delivered significant shifts in representation of women at minimal cost: In March 2020, two-thirds (66%) of data submitted reached 50% women contributors - up 9% on the previous year. Following this success, its remit will be expanded to further include targets for BAME (15%) and disability (12%) aligned to the BBC’s current diversity and inclusion strategy.

Dr. Stacy L. Smith, Founder, Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, says: "A partnership between the BBC and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative draws upon the unique strengths of each organization and ensures that we are moving quickly toward a future where inclusion and belonging are part of the fabric of entertainment."

Creative Diversity Festival

In July, we will host CDX, an innovative industry-first two-day virtual programme of masterclasses, talks and interviews, created to promote and celebrate the vibrancy, innovation, and leadership of national and international Black, Asian and other ethnic minority talent across the creative industry. On 7-8 July 2020, using state of the art streaming technology, CDX will host some of the world’s most iconic stars, cultural disruptors and influencers through a six-hour schedule over two days, which is public facing and primarily aimed young BAME audiences.

Due to COVID-19, the full Creative Diversity festival, which aims to be the pre-eminent BAME-focused creative festival in the world, has been postponed but will be taking place when practicable. This three-day festival will connect the best of BAME creative talent with the BBC and the industry at large. It will be a celebration of the vibrancy, innovation and leadership of BAME talent within the creative industry and will leverage the convening power of the BBC to bring together extraordinary people and stories from BAME communities to establish a content and talent pipeline that will fuel the whole industry.

Notes to editors

June Sarpong joined the BBC as Director of Creative Diversity in November 2019, having previously sat on the BBC’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group.


We are stepping up our commitment to rapidly increase diverse representation at senior levels of the organisation and develop a new generation of talented leaders. By the end of 2020, our aim is to have every BBC board or senior leadership group with at least two members from a BAME background. Every key BBC leadership group is also appointing two new advisers, bringing with them fresh talents, backgrounds, perspectives and insights. One of the appointments on each group will be expected to have a deep understanding of BAME issues.


We are launching BBC Elevate: a concerted drive to support disabled production talent into roles which grow their careers and accelerate change across the industry. The initiative is an extension of the BBC’s internal development programme for disabled staff, to include freelancers and suppliers, and aims to create a greater pool of off-screen disabled talent regularly working across broadcasting.

A ‘BBC Passport’ will be rolled out for use by staff with a disability working at the BBC in 2020. The BBC is committed to creating a culture of openness, and launching the passport will aid disabled employees in having sensitive conversations with their managers and help remove barriers to progression within the organisation. The BBC Passport will be a centralised document, which an individual agrees can be used to inform managers about their disability so that when they move roles they have the support they need in place. It will help to inform and assist managers to facilitate a smooth transition between roles and provide adequate support or adjustments for individuals when they are in post. We are talking to the media industry about how this approach could be used across organisations.

We already have a range of disabled presenters, actors and contributors involved in programming. However, in 2020/21 we will be building on this commitment with a concerted drive to go further on representation. The aim is to produce content in which disabled people are the storytellers, telling nuanced, authentic, raw and surprising stories, in their own voices.

This will be done in two ways. Firstly, there will be improved incidental and integrated disability portrayal in existing programmes and core brands. Secondly, there will also be specially commissioned new landmark content in 2020 and beyond and the return of popular series with disability themes and disabled characters at their heart such as Jerk, The A Word and There She Goes.

The BBC’s award winning disability journalism strand Ouch! will be supporting the initiative online, extending conversations in podcasts, through text pieces and on social media.

Socioeconomic diversity

More than 8 out of 10 of our workforce were educated in state schools, as were three-quarters of our leaders. We are the first broadcaster to collect and publish socio-economic diversity and we are currently the only media organisation listed in Social Mobility Foundation index of top 75 UK employers for the third year running.

We launched our first ever social mobility network RAISED: Real Action in Socio Economic Diversity. BBC RAISED is widening the conversation and enhancing connections around 49 working class audiences and colleagues through a series of workshops and talks

Source BBC Arts

May 21, 2020 5:30am ET by BBC Arts  


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