BBC Bans All-White Shortlists For Top Jobs

Steven Hopkins
The BBC has banned all-white shortlists for top jobs

The BBC has vowed to include at least one black or ethnic minority candidate in all job shortlists above a certain grade, under a new plan to boost the careers of ethnic minority staff.

The new hiring protocol will apply to all middle and senior-ranking posts, including presenter, editor and producer roles.

The broadcaster’s executive committee and divisional leadership teams will also have least two people from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds by 2020.

The plans are included in a landmark report on career progression and culture for staff that was released on Wednesday.

The BBC has also vowed to increase the number of ethnic minority staff conducting job interviews and establish action plans for all divisions with less than 10%, Asian and minority ethnic representation.

“The aim of the project has been to review career progression and culture for BAME employees at the BBC, identify gaps and best practice and make recommendations to the executive committee that will result in significant change,” the BBC said in a statement.  

Managers at the corporation will also be required to undergo cultural awareness training.

There are currently no black people among the corporation’s top 96 leaders.

The Times said the report on career progress at the BBC found that some non-white employees felt a “sense of exclusion and isolation” and believed they missed out on promotions because of favouritism and unconscious bias.

The report makes nine recommendations, which the corporation’s executive committee has accepted.

The report is one of five ordered by BBC director-general Tony Hall, aimed at boosting opportunities for women and BAME, disabled and LGBT staff, as well as those from different social backgrounds.

The other four reports will be published by the autumn.

Hall said: “This is an excellent report based on an unprecedented level of engagement from staff. They are a range of proposals which we believe will transform the BBC. By better reflecting the broader population we will make better programmes that reflect the lives interests and concerns of everyone.

“The proposals build on our existing initiatives, which have been making a difference, but this is now a real chance to accelerate change in an unparalleled way.

“Today’s report is a huge step forward. There no question of whether we implement it. We will. This is a great opportunity. We will grasp it.”

The BBC already has a diversity and inclusion policy in place, which includes 15% targets for the percentage of BAME staff across the corporation and in leadership roles by 2020.

According to Ofcom, just 6% of senior posts at the BBC are held by people from ethnic minorities, who represent 14.8% of the total workforce. 

The report’s recommendations in full:

- By the end of 2020 the executive committee and divisional senior leadership teams to each have at least two BAME members.

- Introduce a policy that ensures shortlists for all jobs at band E and above include at least one BAME person.

- Dramatically increase BAME representation across our interview panels, backed by performance monitoring.

 - All development and leadership programmes to have significant BAME representation as part of their overall cohort. Inclusive leadership should be added to part of all leadership programmes.

- Accountability for diversity and inclusion targets and BAME career progression should be incorporated into senior leadership team objectives and progression reviews. Progress should be outlined as part of future annual reports.

- Build a solid and sustainable BAME mid and senior leadership pipeline. As part of this, there should be development programmes for candidates, backed by robust succession planning across the BBC. This should be in place by the end of the financial year.

- The executive committee should undertake a review of staff rotation to broaden the experience and knowledge base and explore what else can be done to make the BBC workforce more agile.

- Develop specific action plans based on further analysis of all divisions with less than 10% BAME representation or below par employee survey results, including radio, newsrooms, newsgathering, English regions and the World Service.

- Cultural awareness training should be compulsory for all team managers. This should be in addition to the current mandated unconscious bias training programme.

- The BBC should introduce a ‘Statement of Intent’ on diversity and inclusion. All staff would be required to abide by it. The statement should be published alongside the BBC’s annual report.