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New BBC disability strategy

The BBC has announced an ambitious plan to address the representation of disabled people on and off screen.

A range of measures will be used to radically change representation on air, and to make the BBC a top employer for people with disabilities.

The measures include:

  • Quadrupling the on-screen representation of disabled people by 2017
  • A pan-BBC Disability Executive to champion disabled talent and projects
  • Developing the BBC’s existing schemes to recruit and retain disabled staff
  • Opening up even more opportunities for disabled people to work for the BBC

These actions are also intended to help the BBC reach its existing target of increasing disabled staff and disabled leadership in the organisation to over 5 per cent by 2017.

BBC Director-General, Tony Hall, says: “It is vital we reflect the public we serve – both on and off air. While the BBC has some good schemes in place, we must and can do significantly more. That’s why we want to quadruple on-screen representation and open up many more opportunities for disabled people to work at the BBC.

“We will now work tirelessly to achieve our new ambitions, and reserve the option of going even further in the future.”

A pan-BBC approach

A new Disability Executive will be appointed to work across the BBC, to improve programming, commissioning, talent management and the portrayal of disabled people. This person will champion disabled talent and projects across the BBC, providing expertise and support to colleagues.

Extend

The BBC will add to the award-winning Extend programme, which helps disabled people to work in production, so that we retain more of the scheme’s graduates. The aim is to support 30 people who, through the Extend recruitment process, have either come to the end of their contract and need support to stay in the industry, or have been identified as high potential, to get into the BBC talent pool (these are in addition to the 30 who are on full placements).

They will be offered access to training and given their access reports in advance, which should help speed up any reasonable adjustments. They will be assigned a BBC mentor and, crucially, provided with six months formal connection to Talent, HR and hiring managers, and therefore access to jobs.

Opening up the BBC

Working in partnership with organisations like the Shaw Trust, Leonard Cheshire Disability, Royal National Institute for Blind People (RNIB), Working Links and Remploy, the BBC will open up 150 roles to ‘non-media ’ disabled people in roles that support the business. Having more people with disabilities working visibly in our buildings and teams across the UK has the potential to influence cultural change at the BBC.

BBC HR will also be improving talent-mapping and recruitment processes to enable the best talent to be hired and developed at the BBC, so that barriers to a diverse workforce are diminished.

In addition, the BBC will open itself up to more people from diverse backgrounds by building on access and apprenticeship programmes.

On-screen targets

A target has been set to quadruple on-air representation and/or portrayal from 1.2 per cent to 5 per cent by 2017.

Independent challenge and advice

Disabled people are represented in the small group of respected BAME and disabled experts and cultural leaders who form the Independent Diversity Advisory Group, chaired by the Director-General.

Their role is to challenge and advise Tony Hall and the BBC’s senior leaders on diversity, and to judge on results, not just efforts. Currently Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and former BBC executive

Tanya Motie have accepted the invitation to join.

These announcements follow the Director-General’s commitment to help drive change in the wider industry and contribute to better representation of BAME audiences on screen and off, as revealed last month.