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Diamond news update

Our Executive Director, Amanda Ariss, provided an update to the industry on Diamond, our new pan-industry diversity monitoring system, in Broadcast magazine this week

13 August, 2015 | By Amanda Ariss
With just a little effort, the Diamond system will soon offer a richness of data on diversity, says Amanda Ariss
Since Lenny Henry’s justly famous BAFTA lecture, television has been facing hard questions about its ability to embrace diversity.
Much has happened since Lenny spoke. The major broadcasters have launched ambitious strategies for change and underpinning all their work is Diamond, the Creative Diversity Network’s industry-wide diversity monitoring system.
Diamond is a ground-breaking project: no other broadcasting industry in the world has worked together to develop such a cross-industry approach to gathering and publishing diversity information.
The system has been in development for a long time but is expected to go live by the end of 2015. But just what is it, and how will it work?
Diamond will give us detailed and accurate answers to two essential questions: Does the workforce on UK productions, both on and off-screen, reflect the diversity of the UK? And are audiences of all kinds seeing themselves reflected on screen? We need answers to those questions because despite all the efforts already being made, the industry still does not reflect the diversity of the UK, and as a consequence it misses out on brilliant creative talent.
Production teams on all UK-originated productions commissioned by the participating broadcasters will enter the name and contact details of people working on their programme, on or off screen, into the Diamond system.
Each of those people will then receive an email asking them to enter information directly into the system on their gender; gender identity; age; ethnicity; sexual orientation and disability. Production companies will separately enter information about what an audience might perceive as the diversity characteristics of on-screen characters and contributors.
Individuals can choose what information to share but the quality and usefulness of the data Diamond generates will depend on individuals being willing to contribute – unless we all join in, we won’t get an accurate diversity picture of the industry. But to make life easier individuals will only be asked to contribute their data once every two years, no matter how many programmes they work on in that time.
Making sure the information on Diamond will be safe is an incredibly important part of developing the system. Diamond reports will be aggregated and anonymized – no one will be able to see data about an individual in published reports and access to the system will be strictly controlled.
The Diamond software is currently being built and tested and it is planned to go live later this year. A full training programme for producers is being developed involving face-to-face sessions and e-learning modules.
Our first report should be available in the second quarter of 2016. This early data may only cover a relatively small number of programmes, but it is still likely to have a broader basis than most previously published diversity studies.
Ultimately, Diamond will be collecting systematic and comprehensive diversity information on thousands of hours of programming each year, all in a consistent format. This will provide a richness of diversity data that has never been achieved before so everyone in the industry can better focus their efforts to improve diversity.
It has been a long time coming but everyone involved – the BBC, Channel 4, ITV, Sky, CDN, Creative Skillset, PACT, the project management team and our software developers – have been working fantastically hard to make sure Diamond is secure, easy to use and, most importantly, will really help to up the pace of progress on diversity in television.
Amanda Ariss is Executive Director of the Creative Diversity Network