The TV industry needs an urgent review of how to improve BAME representation among senior production roles, according to the Creative Diversity Network’s latest damning diversity report.
According to The Fourth Cut, the fourth annual review of Diamond data, just 4.6% of series producers were BAME in the year to 31 July 2020, around a third of the 13% UK workforce average. Among directors the figure is 8.6% and among executive producers it is 7.1% and among producers it is 9.3%. Producer/directors are better represented at 13.2%.
Off-screen diversity is also below average across most genres, with only current affairs (19.9%) and factual entertainment (14.4%) bucking the trend.
Overall, off-screen contributions from BAME groups has fallen from 12.3% to 11.8%. At senior production level, the fall is more pronounced still, from 12.1% to 10.7%.
The report said the figures were worrying, given the myriad efforts to tackle diversity across the sector in recent years.
“The industry needs now to urgently review its approach to achieving diversity in the sector’s most influential roles,” the report stated. “A clearer understanding is required of what has worked (or has not) and why. This needs to be shared to inform more effective action.”
Search activity on the Talent Manager bears testament to the challenge ahead. Recruiters conducted almost 200,000 searches for potential crew over the course of 2020, of whom just over 9,000 - less than 5% - clicked to look at 'diverse talent' within the results.
Though Talent Manager introduced its diversity search engine in 2017, part of a wider suite of applications, this is still an emerging area that should show improvement as recruiters become more familiar with the opportunities presented by such tools. Last month, use of the 'diverse search' tab increased by 221%.
The CDN singled out drama, which under-delivered in many areas, for particular concern as it is “the genre where we otherwise see investment and efforts being made to innovate content”.
The report stated: “It is critical that more is done to diversify those producing UK dramas if, as an industry, we are to continue to compete in the global market and maintain our reputation for great drama both home and abroad.”
Other recommendations include stepping up efforts to eliminating gender stereotyping of craft roles.
One sign of growth was among commissioning editors, where BAME representation grew from 16.5% in 2018-2019 to 22.3%. Since the report's publication, one senior BAME commissioner, Channel 4's Fozia Khan, has taken on an unscripted commissioning role at Amazon.
Meanwhile, disabled people make up 17% of the UK working population, but account for just 5.8% of people working in TV, up from 5.2%. They are best represented among series producers, though this is still below the national average at 10.4%.
The Diamond data remains a selective snapshot of diversity in the TV industry, with around 30% of the industry responding, though contributions were up 25% to 750,000. This year marked the first time that UKTV contributed to the report.
The CDN said it was too early to ascertain the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on the TV workforce, and that this would be a focus of next year’s report.