Diversity and inclusion organisation Creative Access has published a report showing significant barriers to entry for under-represented groups looking to work in film and TV.

The survey heard from the Creative Access community at two points this year, publishing the findings to mark  Disability History Month.

The data showed the extent to which disabled UK workers have experienced prejudice around access to jobs or progression opportunities in creative industries. The gap widens when disabled individuals also identify as being from a Black, Asian, Ethnically Diverse (BAED) or low socio-economic status (LSES).

Creative Access data showed, when asked to agree or disagree with the statement ‘I feel I have the the necessary confidence to progress in my career’ 70% of respondents who identified as BAED agreed, this dropped to just 40% when respondents identified as BAED and disabled3. When asked about seeing opportunities for career progression, the answers were 71% vs. 60% respectively3. When asked about whether their ‘current employer has a supportive, inclusive culture’.

When asked about whether their ‘current employer has a supportive, inclusive culture’, only 32% of candidates from our pool of those interested in or looking to break into TV/film agreed.

In the UK currently 1 in 5 in UK workers are disabled, and the likelihood of unemployment is higher with disabled workers (81% vs. 52.7% of non-disabled workers)1. And while the employment gap had been closing, the pandemic took us back a step. Disabled workers are also more likely to be in lower-skilled occupations, self-employed, working part-time (and subsequently less hours), working in the public sector or temporarily away from work1.

The survey asked candidates about tactics to improve the accessibility of roles and opportunities in the creative economy to disabled people. The most important thing was that employers be responsive to employees negotiating a working pattern that met their individual needs; over three quarters of respondents cited that they’d like more flexible working and training for line managers in supporting disabled employees to thrive

The survey found 56% of respondents are affected by more than one category of disability (rising to 86% of respondents affected by mental illness and at least one other). Only a third of respondents felt they had confidence to progress their creative career, citing negative experiences at work contributing to low confidence. And only 1 in 3 stated that their organisation had an inclusive culture.

On intersectionality, BAED respondent Lily Ahree Siegel said: “It’s not about the lack of talent but lack of access. It seems no matter how qualified or excellent I am, I need to be extraordinary to receive praise and access to similar institutions to my white, able-bodied peers…Like many jobs, there’s a lot hinging on others to “take a chance” on someone. Not to mention other systemic disadvantages – disabled people are more likely to be unemployed or living in poverty. I have [also] yet to see a person like myself in a leadership position.”

While there was no ‘one size fits all approach’ for adjustments or considerations for employers when it comes to helping disabled workers and candidates thrive. A common theme appeared among immediate considerations, including:

· Audit your staff to ensure hiring and line managers sufficiently understand their legal duties towards disabled people as set out in the Equality Act 2010

· Consider making adjustments to your application procedures, for example can an employee record their answers to questions on the application form

· If using third party recruiters, ensure they are compliant with the measures set out in the Equality Act


Josie Dobrin, executive chair, Creative Access says: “In the creative industries – in which disabled people are under-represented – there is a huge opportunity for employers to gain from the advantage of a more diverse workforce. And disabled candidates are clear about what will best set themselves up for success, whether that’s around flexible working, better training at all levels of the organisation or bespoke routes into mentors. It’s collectively down to us all in the creative economy to decide to listen to the data, spot room for improvement and act upon it.

“We have already begun implementing numerous changes to how we recruit and support our own staff, and we will also be exploring how we support disabled candidate access to networking, bespoke mentor matching and potentially ringfenced access to bursaries for career development.”




Pippa Considine

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