Diversity went into reverse in the British television industry last year, a damning new report has revealed, despite a global reckoning over racism and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd.
The Creative Diversity Network, a membership network of major British broadcasters and producers, has produced its latest Diamond report — a health check on industry diversity, based on the 36,503 responses of industry figures between August 2019 and July 2020.
The report found that the representation of Black, Asian, and minority ethnic people went backwards both on- and off-screen. BAME representation behind-the-scenes stood at 11.8% last year, down from 12.3% in 2019 and below the UK workforce estimate of 13%.
Whilst there have been small and encouraging increases in the number of contributions made by disabled people and over-50s, both on and off-screen, these groups are still very under-represented across all Diamond programmes. This year disabled people made just 5.8% of contributions off-screen, which is well below the national workforce estimate (17%); and they made only 8.2% of on-screen contributions, despite comprising 18% of the population.
A lack of representation for many groups is more apparent off-screen than on-screen, especially among people who identify as disabled, over-50, transgender, or part of a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic group.
Off-screen contributions from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups has fallen from 12.3% last year to 11.8% in 2019- 20, which is below the national workforce estimate (13%).
Disabled people made just 2.7% of contributions off-screen (down from 4.7% last year), and those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Groups made just 5.9% of contributions, down from 8.6% in the previous year.
As in 2018-19, women, transgender, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic and disabled people continue to be less well represented in senior roles. In fact there has been a decrease in contributions at senior level made by females (47.1%, down from 50.4% in 2018-19). Women are particularly poorly represented in the role of Directors (29%) and Writers, where contributions have fallen from 38.1% last year to 33.4% this year.
We also see very low contributions being made in the roles of Writer and Director by those who are disabled or from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups. 3.5% of Writer contributions and 4.9% of Director of contributions are by those who are disabled; 6.5% of Writer contributions and 8.4% of Director contributions are by those who identify as Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic.
Analysis of the craft and technical groups confirms that many of these roles continue to be highly gendered, with females dominating in roles such as Hair and Make-Up and Costume and Wardrobe, and males dominating others such as Lighting, Camera and Sound. This may impact workers entering the sector now, and shape expectations about opportunities available to them.
And it’s not just on BAME pepresentation where TV needs to make improvements. The CDN report said that the UK television industry has “urgent” work to do on disability. It found that disabled people are only making 5.8% of contributions off-screen and 8.2% on-screen, compared to a 17% national average. These were meager gains on 2019 and the CDN said there is “significant” under-representation across senior production roles.