Project Diamond data reveals urgent need to improve disability inclusion, senior-level representation in TV: Bectu

14 March 2022

The Creative Diversity Network’s (CDN) latest Project Diamond data shows a disappointing lack of progress on improving diversity in broadcasting.

The Fifth Cut: Diamond at 5 report, the fifth since the Diamond project was launched to monitor diversity across all broadcasters, indies and genres, reveals a lack of real progress in increasing representation by previously (and currently) under-represented groups.

Latest data shows signs of progress but mostly at lower and mid-level. Despite an array of diversity initiatives being introduced, no significant gains have been made in increasing representation in higher-level positions.

The findings also reveal that representation by disabled people both on and off-screen has remained consistently lower across all genres, all broadcasters, and all job roles than the 18% of the UK population who declare a disability. Particularly disappointing are findings that over the past three years there has been a decrease in contributions by disabled people in the roles of Director, Producer-Director, and Producer.


Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said:

“It’s disappointing to see very limited signs of progress in the latest Project Diamond data. In its fifth year and after little change, it’s now more important than ever that broadcasters immediately commit to taking meaningful action.

“It is simply not good enough for individual broadcasters to set diversity targets and to continue to fail to meet them. The pandemic gave the industry an opportunity to reflect on working and hiring practices and we now need to see commitment to substantially improve working practices and culture.

“The latest data lays bare systemic failings to address disability representation. At current rates of progress, we are decades away from the industry reaching representation levels of disabled people that match the UK population.

“Collaboration across the industry is critical to drive the structural change needed to achieve disability inclusion, and to create an inclusive, open industry that welcomes different types of talent and allows them to occupy senior roles. Once again, we are calling on broadcasters to publish Project Diamond data at programme level for all productions with a workforce greater than 50, to allow for greater clarity on the good work happening on some shows, and better illuminate which areas need help.”


Disability inclusion still decades away

The latest report’s findings on disability inclusion are particularly damning, with the report concluding: “There appears to be nowhere in the industry where disabled people thrive.” Representation by disabled people both on and off-screen is very low across all genres, all broadcasters, and all job roles.

Since Diamond: the Fourth Cut, the CDN published its Interim Report on Doubling Disability, which showed that just 5.4% of those who work in the industry are disabled. At current rates of improvement it will take many years before we see disabled people accurately represented behind the camera.

This year, CDN reports that 6% of offscreen and 8.3% of on-screen contributions were made by disabled people. These figures are significantly lower than the rate of disabled people in the UK population (18%).


Ethnicity representation off-screen still a major concern

The five years’ data across the Project Diamond reports consistently reveals greater representation on-screen than off-screen across all Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups,  and representation from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups remains particularly low in the roles of Director, Writer, Producer, Executive Producer and Head of Production.

While off-screen contributions have increased marginally, these figures are significantly lower than the large Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic population in London where the majority of television is produced.

People who identify as South Asian are least well represented. Over the last five years, contributions have declined both on and off-screen and South Asians are significantly under-represented in roles such as Director, Writer, Executive Producer and Series Producer.

Bectu will soon relaunch the findings of its ‘Race to be Heard’ report, again calling on broadcasters, unions and industry stakeholders to form a new independent body to tackle racism in the industry. A commitment from broadcasters to establish such a body would provide some confidence that the industry takes the issue seriously and is willing to take action.


Targeted action needed

The Fifth Cut: Diamond at 5 represents data from more than 850,000 contributions by individuals working on and off-screen on qualifying television content produced by the five original Diamond broadcasters BBC, Channel 4, ITV, Paramount (previously ViacomCBS) and Sky – broadcast between 1 August 2020 and 31 July 2021.

With this data the CDN tracks who is being commissioned to make programmes across different genres and different production roles. The data gives an indication of how inclusive and open the industry is to different types of talent.

As in previous years, Bectu is calling on broadcasters to publish programme-level data to allow the Project Diamond data to be a much more effective tool for change, revealing more clearly where positive change is taking place and where greater effort and focus is needed.

You can read the report here.

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