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Bectu has stepped up its call to Ofcom to establish an industry-wide racism reporting body after gathering stark evidence that current approaches are ineffective.

More than 50 creatives have backed an open letter to Ofcom chief executive Melanie Dawes that outlines concerns raised in a survey commissioned by the union.

Producers including Nelson Adeosun, Kevin Muyolo and Saima Ferdows, plus representatives of Directors UK, the NUJ, We Are Doc Women and the Musicians’ Union, are among those putting their names to the letter.

Bectu floated the creation of such a body when it launched its Race to be Heard campaign in 2020, in an effort to pressure broadcasters into dealing with racism in the TV workplace more effectively.

Marcus Ryder, who compiled the survey of 353 individuals working in TV in film on behalf of the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity, said there is “a serious underreporting of racism in British broadcasting”.

The survey found that 61% of Global Majority respondents had experienced racism at work, 59% had witnessed it and 57% felt racism had impacted their career progress.

Only 4% of those who have reported racism to a broadcaster felt their complaint was dealt with effectively, and only 12% of those who had approached union reps felt satisfied with the response. Bectu itself was named twice as a culprit.

Respondents called for more anonymous and consistent reporting and for diversity leaders to be more empowered to enact change. The report quotes individuals having experienced “micro-aggressions”, “gaslighting” with one referring to the grievance process as “a total whitewash” that led to the perpetrator’s promotion.

Due to the freelance culture of the industry, some reports were considered not worth addressing as the individual was nearing the end of their contract.

Several said the industry too often leaves it to discriminated-against individuals to shoulder the burden of proof rather than address systematic problems.

“Reporting racism is one thing, dismantling racist practices and screening for racists before employment would be great,” one respondent said.

“Your black and other ethnicity employees and co-workers are sick of having to deal with racists at work. We don’t care if it reduces the number of people available.”

In its letter, Bectu said the survey highlighted “an overwhelming lack of confidence with the way in which broadcasters and trade unions handle reports of racism, with many respondents expressing that their complaints were either not taken seriously or completely ignored”.

The union pleaded with Dawes: “We ask that you publicly lend your support to our campaign and join us to put pressure on UK broadcasters to work with unions and formulate an independent reporting body.”  

To read the letter in full, and add your signature, click here





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