Bectu joins Changing Faces equality campaign for people with disfigurement in the creative industries

13 February 2020

Bectu has become the first trade union to pledge to eradicate negative stereotypes and ensure people with a visible difference are not discriminated against in the creative industries.

The pledge is part of a new partnership with the charity, Changing Faces – which works to improve positive representation of people with visible differences such as scars, marks and conditions.

Bectu and its parent union Prospect are the first trade unions to sign up to Changing Faces #PledgeToBeSeen campaign. The union hopes that leading by example will influence employers and people working in the creative industries to change attitudes and practices. #PledgeToBeSeen was launched by Changing Faces to ensure that people with a visible difference are seen and heard across mainstream culture and in the workplace.

Almost one in five people in the UK identify as having a visible difference such as a mark, scar or condition that affects their appearance. A recent research report from Changing Faces, My Visible Difference1, found that one in three (29%) people say that they feel depressed, sad or anxious as a result of having a visible difference.

Six in ten (58%) people with a visible difference report they have experienced hostile behaviour from strangers. Whilst two in five (40%) say that they have felt judged by potential employers and that they have not applied to certain roles because of their appearance (41%).

The collaboration came about thanks to the efforts of Bectu union representative, Dominic Rafferty, who works for the British Film Institute (BFI) and has a visible difference himself.

Dominic first came across the pioneering work of Changing Faces when the BFI backed the charity’s “I Am Not Your Villain” campaign. This called on film industry casting directors, producers, production companies and directors to stop using scars, marks or burns as a shorthand for villainy.

Dominic urged Bectu to commit to raising further awareness throughout its network of creative industries employers and production workers at employers including ITV, BBC, BAFTA, BFI, Pinewood, Netflix and Warner Brothers.

Dominic Rafferty, Bectu representative, said:

“The awareness generated by this campaign and Bectu’s involvement has to result in tangible outcomes for people working across the creative industries.

“I’d like to see Bectu’s example leading to greater engagement with employers in looking at how, for example, job application processes, bullying and harassment policies can be improved to help people with visible differences feel welcome and supported in the workplace.”

Becky Hewitt, Chief Executive, Changing Faces, said:

“We are delighted that Bectu has signed our #PledgeToBeSeen commitment. We need to act now to challenge stigma and prejudice and to achieve better representation for people with visible differences.

“People with a visible difference tell us that they feel excluded and isolated from public life, rarely seeing anyone who looks like them in the media, arts or broadcasting.

“And unfortunately, if people with scars, marks and conditions are featured, then too often it’s as a shorthand for villainy or victimhood. We think people with a visible difference should see themselves reflected across the creative industries, both in workplaces and in artistic output.”

Philippa Childs, Head of Bectu said:

“I am grateful to our representative Dominic Rafferty for bringing the exceptional work of Changing Faces to our attention.

“We fully support #PledgeToBeSeen, which dovetails perfectly into Bectu’s own Dignity at Work campaign. A key strand of this is equality, which means working directly with members and employers to ensure everyone is treated with respect as a maintained workplace norm.

“We are proud to be the first trade union to sign the pledge and look forward to working closely with Changing Faces, employers and members to ensure that people with a visible difference are not discriminated against.”

Organisations and businesses that sign the #PledgeToBeSeen campaign commit to:

  • publicly sharing the news of their pledge
  • representing more people with a visible difference in their campaigns (including advertising, PR and recruitment) over the next 12 months
  • communicating about their pledge internally as part of their commitment to an inclusive workplace.


1Savanta ComRes interviewed 1,037 people with a mark, scar or condition that makes them look different online between 7th and 16th March 2019. Data were weighted to be representative of those with a mark, scar or condition that makes them look different by age, gender and region.