Broadcast executives are to call for more diverse representation within leadership roles to ensure an inclusive future for the industry.
During Channel 4’s annual Inclusion Festival, on Wednesday, leaders from UK broadcasters including BBC, ITV and Channel 4 will discuss what they feel are the urgent issues facing the industry and how they can be addressed.
Among the interviews and panel discussions at the Altogether Different: Live event, a range of topics including the issues facing disabled talent and the media portrayal of Muslims and the transgender community will also be explored.
In previews shared of some of the pre-recorded sessions, improving the diversity of off-screen talent and changing the make-up of broadcasting’s senior leaders were common points raised.
Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon discusses the importance of off-screen diversity, saying: “Off-screen representation is much harder (than on-screen) because we can’t see it easily.
“It’s what changes our industry over time. It’s what changes how people make decisions on set. And it changes the creative and editorial conversation.”
The channel’s chief content officer, Ian Katz, will also reflect on the “scandalous lack of access afforded to disabled talent”.
“Our session is a sharp reminder that broadcasters, streamers and producers need to work together to fix this shameful situation”, he says.
Speaking on the panel about issues facing disabled talent in the industry, the co-director of Deaf & Disabled People in TV Caroline O’Neill, adds: “We need disabled people in those senior level roles and that will have a trickle effect because at the moment, most disabled people, they enter the industry, they look up and they’ve got no senior role models.
“I can count on one hand how many disabled commissioners are out there and that is rubbish.”
BBC director-general Tim Davie also stresses the importance of organisational change as he says he is tired of “too much good intent” and not getting on with the work.
“Unless you rewire your organisation at the heart, you will not get this job done”, Mr Davie says.
“I’m a little bit tired of too many initiatives, too much good intent as opposed to just getting on with it and reshaping your organisation.
“Much of what we are doing, whether it’s targets or initiatives, is a genuine reshaping of the BBC.”
ITV’s chief executive Carolyn McCall will also emphasise the importance of improving diversity in senior management and how they are working on creating more opportunities for people from ethnically diverse backgrounds through their Amplify scheme.
“You can’t have senior leaders if you don’t have a pipeline of senior leaders, you’ve got to have people that are being developed, and nurtured, and retained”, she says.
In his keynote speech, Channel 4 News’ main anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy will also touch on the importance of who the decision makers are by questioning: “At the very top management levels, those holding the power, what do we think about the pace of change?
“Are we really happy to just live with the idea that the gatekeepers may never truly reflect the audiences they serve?”
The festival will be available to watch from 9am on Wednesday after registering at the event’s website.