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Broadcasters need to “send a clear message” that speaking up for diversity does not compromise impartiality, Marcus Ryder has said.

Speaking at a Variety event last night, the executive and diversity campaigner said that diversity is vital to “break up group-think”, which can result in people from a minority background being treated as “other”.

“We need to ensure that we can think as dynamically as possible,” he added.

In a speech given following his receipt of an MBE, Ryder said journalists are “scared of being blacklisted as a troublemaker”.

“I have spoken to journalists who literally — and I am using the word literally correctly here — literally look over their shoulder when they talk about diversity — on Zoom, at home, because they are so scared of losing their jobs,” Ryder said.

“They are worried that doing any of these things will bring their impartiality into question and, by extension, be used against them when they go for promotion – or worse, be used as ammunition against them in a disciplinary hearing. These fears are real.”

Broadcasters could calm these fears by making clear their position on issues such as ‘taking the knee’ or showing support for those who do, he said.

This would, he believes, “send a very clear message that they believe in media diversity - and do not believe championing media diversity impacts a journalist’s ability to be impartial, any more than championing the right to vote or any of our basic human rights”.

Publishing the diversity of their editorial policy teams and editorial complaints units would further aid transparency, he said.

“Actions speak louder than denials,” he said. “For me, and millions of people in the UK, the principle of being anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-disablist does also not require ‘absolute neutrality’.”

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