The BBC’s 50:50 Project, that monitors the gender of contributors, is to be widened out to include ethnicity and disability representation.

The 50:50 initiative, which originated in BBC News, uses a self-monitoring system to measure the gender of contributors in their content. This is now being expanded to include disability and ethnicity.

It will be guided by Tim Davie’s diversity targets for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (20%) and disability (12%) representation. Targets will be adjusted for regional and international content according to audience demographics.

In preparation for the expansion, pilots took place between March and October with more than 60 BBC teams taking part and trialling different methods of collecting and monitoring data tailored specifically to their content.

Tim Davie, BBC Director-General, said: “It’s absolutely vital the BBC reflects the public it serves.

“The ground-breaking 50:50 Project has had a powerful impact over the last three years.  I think it has the potential to achieve even more and to find new voices for our content.

“This is not just a challenge for the BBC, but for all media organisations. I’m delighted more organisations are coming on board, as together we can deliver positive change.”

Nina Goswami, BBC’s Creative Diversity Lead for 50:50, said: “When it comes to women’s representation, 50:50 enriches our storytelling with new voices and the data helps us think differently meaning we’re uncovering new stories.

“By applying 50:50’s core principles for disability and ethnicity representation we believe we can amplify a wider range of voices and discover more content that reflects our world. We’ve a long way to go but together it is achievable.”

In addition to the expansion announced today, the BBC is for the first time calling on current 50:50 partners to publish their gender data alongside the BBC for a challenge month in March 2021, helping to increase women’s representation across the wider media.

More than 70 organisations have already signed up to the 50:50 Project from around the world, including Unilever, RTÉ, TVNZ, the Financial Times, ABC News (Australia), Edelman and Lansons.

To date, more than 600 teams at the BBC have signed up to 50:50 and have been collecting gender data.

Results from the challenge month in March 2020 showed 66% of datasets featured 50% women contributors. Only 34% of those datasets were reaching 50% women contributors when they first returned results, indicating there has been a shift in the representation of women in BBC content.

Some of the high profile programmes to reach 50% women in March 2020 include Radio 4’s The World This Weekend, the News at Six, BBC Breakfast, The Andrew Marr Show, The One Show, Radio 5 Live Breakfast and Songs of Praise. The BBC’s coverage of Glastonbury Festival in June 2019 and Sports Personality of the Year in December 2019 both also achieved 50% women contributors.


Jon Creamer

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