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Ofcom updates on work to promote diversity

November 2, 2022

Ofcom has announced it is expanding the breadth of data it collects annually from TV and radio broadcasters to help promote equity, diversity and inclusion across the broadcasting industry. This follows a five-year review of progress, which identified where the regulator could help drive further improvements so that the sector accurately reflects the diverse audiences it serves.

With greater numbers of people leaving the TV and radio industry, the progress made in recent years to increase diversity will not be sustainable – unless greater efforts are made to retain, and not simply attract, a diverse range of employees at all levels, says Ofcom.

Ofcom’s approach, therefore, has a firm focus on driving equity and inclusion, and helping broadcasters to embed diversity at all levels of their organisation. Ofcom has announced a series of changes to the way it gathers diversity information from broadcasters, as well as refreshing its industry guidance to reflect the latest best practice.

From Spring 2023, Ofcom will launch a new data collection toolkit for broadcasters. It includes:

  • A new equity, diversity and inclusion self-assessment tool for qualitative data collection and evaluation;
  • An expanded, user-friendly quantitative data collection questionnaire; and
  • Updated guidance for broadcasters, including specific recommendations on inclusive working practices.

Ofcom has also published its report on the diversity of workforces in television and radio 2021-2022. This includes high-level diversity data, provided voluntarily, from eight of the largest broadcasters. It reveals that across the eight broadcasters’ workforces:

  • Overall representation of minority ethnic groups increased to 15 per cent of workers. This exceeds representation in the UK working age population (13 per cent) but remains below that for major cities in which a number of these broadcasters have a strong presence (London at 37 per cent and Manchester at 28 per cent). Representation of people from minority ethnic backgrounds at senior management level also rose to 9 per cent, although continued improvement is needed;
  • Disabled people continue to be significantly underrepresented, making up only 9 per cent of all workers and 8 per cent of senior managers, compared with 21 per cent of the UK working age population; and
  • People from working class backgrounds are underrepresented. Thirteen per cent of employees attended private school, compared 7 per cent of the UK working age population, and 62 per cent of employees had parents in a professional occupation when they were aged 14, against the UK benchmark of 33 per cent.

For the first time this year, Ofcom was able to publish some diversity workforce data broken down by geographic area. The BBC has supplied data for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, which shows that 81 per cent of the BBC’s workforce are based in England, compared to 8 per cent in Scotland, 7 per cent in Wales and 4 per cent in Northern Ireland. The report also looks at the makeup of the workforce in each area.

Ofcom has strongly encouraged other broadcasters to follow the BBC’s lead in providing this data by location.

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