The BBC, Channel 4, ITV, Sky, Viacom, ITN, Pact and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have backed an initiative from the Creative Diversity Network (CDN) that aims to double the percentage of disabled people working in British television by 2020.
Reports for CDN’s DIAMOND diversity monitoring system suggest that just 4.5 per cent of those working off-screen in the UK’s television industry have self-declared as disabled, compared to the 18 per cent figure for the population as a whole. Just 4.1 percent of senior roles were filled by disabled people.
Just 5.0 per cent of off-screen contributions were from disabled people. The representation of disabled people varied by genre. For example, for drama (1.9%), comedy (2.2%) and arts and music (figures too low to report), there are fewer than 3 per cent contributions by disabled people. The highest number of contributions were to current affairs (12.1%) and childrens (9.3%).
The Doubling Disability initiative is creating a cross-broadcaster taskforce, with involvement from the DWP, disabled people’s organisations and other bodies, with the aim of doubling the percentage of disabled people working in off-screen production and creative talent roles over the next two years.  It includes a research programme which will identify barriers to employment and, working at the highest level within the industry, seek remedies that can be shared across the industry.
The project will work across and through the supply chain – broadcasters, producers, freelancers, industry bodies such as guilds, unions and training providers – to increase the number of disabled entrants to new and existing roles, as well as supporting the retention and career progression of disabled people already working in the industry.  It is targeted at increasing disabled representation in all off-screen roles across commissioning, production and programme support functions.
It includes training and introduction programmes for employers and individual contractors, as well as disabled people’s organisations working to get more new people into the industry. CDN will also be working closely with the DWP to look at making it easier for both employers and individuals to access funding through the government’s Access to Work scheme, to help make the reasonable adjustments which increase the accessibility of workplaces and jobs to disabled people.
Doubling Disability will use the most recent DIAMOND report as a benchmark, and then monitor and capture the project’s progress and achievements through subsequent DIAMOND reports.
Deborah Williams, CEO of CDN said: “‘Doubling Disability is the first of many diversity interventions fuelled by the data evidence from DIAMOND. It has been great to be able to gain insight from the work of Dan Brooke in his ambassadorial role for disability and the industry alongside the activities other broadcasters are currently carrying out. I believe that the as the programme rolls out and more industry partners and stakeholders come on board, the collaborative nature of Doubling Disability will change the way the industry engages disabled people and set the tone for future diversity work based on DIAMOND data.”
Tony Hall, BBC Director-General said: “Diversity is vital to the BBC’s commitment to serve the whole of the UK. The DIAMOND data shows that as an industry we must do more to increase the number of disabled people working in broadcasting.  We’re fully committed to the CDN’s ‘Doubling Disability’ plan and want to do all we can to improve representation amongst our own staff and freelancers working across the industry.”
Alex Mahon, Channel 4’s Chief Executive said: “Channel 4 has been a trailblazer for representation of disabled people on and off screen with our Paralympics coverage helping to shift society’s perceptions of disability. However, as DIAMOND has shown, we’ve got to do a lot better as an industry and Doubling Disability is about working with partners across the supply chain and committing to a clear target to ensure we are more representative of the audience we serve.”
Carolyn McCall, ITV Chief Executive said, “As the nation’s most watched commercial broadcaster, we have brought disability representation on screen to the heart of our mainstream schedule, from our biggest soaps, to the winner of our biggest entertainment show in 2018. Disability is one of the core priorities of our diversity and inclusion strategy both on-screen and for our colleagues. DIAMOND has highlighted the need to improve representation of disabled people behind the camera and Doubling Disability is an opportunity for us to work together as an industry to drive this change."
James Currell, President, Viacom International Media Networks UK, said: “This is an important initiative which puts a much-needed spotlight on the underrepresentation of disabled employees in the British broadcast sector. At Viacom we’re fully committed to spearheading a change and we have a range of initiatives in place which will contribute to address this imbalance in the industry overall.”

Jon Creamer

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