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How ITV’s diversity drive changed on-screen representation and recruitment in 2020

Dance group Diversity performing during Britain’s Got Talent

UK commercial broadcaster ITV has published its second annual Diversity Action Plan Report showing that, year-on-year, it has seen 33% increase of available lead roles filled by Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) talent.

The Drum explores how it has accelerated change in the representation of on- and off-screen talent. ITV also laid out how it will “ramp up efforts to address disability representation and socio-economic diversity as priorities in 2021/2022“.

What it says

  • With the 33% increase in roles available to BAME actors, 26% of lead roles were filled by BAME people – previously 21%.

  • ITV Board: 11 members, 45.5% female, 18.2% from BAME background. Commissioning team: 21.2% BAME, 76.9% white. Currently 13.4% of ITV’s colleagues and 11.2% of its senior leadership team are “ethnically diverse“.

  • 29% of writers working on new scripted projects in 2020 from BAME backgrounds, compared to 8% in 2019.

  • It broadcast the first all-Black panel on Loose Women and commissioned Unsaid Stories in response to the Black Lives Matter protests.

  • Women now make up just over half of all writers working on scripted projects in development.

  • Recruitment: In 2020, there was an 8% year-on-year increase in all ITV job applications from BAME candidates “following targeted social media campaigns investment“, with 26% of applications coming from BAME candidates.

  • It has created a new role of group diversity and inclusion director on ITV’s management board, reporting directly to Carolyn McCall. Ade Rawcliffe (quoted below) was hired.

  • Through its Step Up 60 initiative, 62 opportunities were created for talent from underrepresented groups to step up to their next role – based exclusively on merit.

  • It recruited 42 apprentices – “a high proportion were from diverse backgrounds“. There were 11 participants to the ITV Studios Production Trainee scheme.

  • ITV Rise was developed to find a BAME leader, pairing them with senior leadership for coaching and learning programs. 26% of ITV Rise participants have already moved into more senior roles.

  • The membership of ITV’s Cultural Diversity Council – a group of independent external advisers from a range of industries – is being finalized and will be announced shortly.

ITV says

“We still have much to do,“ says the report. Going forward, the renewed effort will focus on disability and socioeconomic diversity.

It will continue to improve BAME representation, but has laid out five targets for summer 2022. These are:

  • Increasing representation of people with a disability in senior editorial positions at ITV.

  • Commissioning to ensure ITV better reflects the lives of people with a disability on screen.

  • Improving the career opportunities for people with a disability working on ITV programs.

  • Ensuring people with a disability have entry level career opportunities at ITV.

  • Educating itself about disability and the experiences of people with a disability, and ensuring accessibility is in-built into everything ITV does.

ITV’s data found that approximately 20% of the UK population have a disability. This group is rarely represented on-screen, particularly in a positive light, hence the new focus.

Ade Rawcliffe, ITV’s group director of diversity and inclusion, said: “We will continue to report on the five key areas we outlined, next year, and we know we need to work on attracting and providing opportunities for diverse talent at senior level at ITV, on continuing to provide strong leading roles on-screen for diverse talent, and off-screen among production talent. We want to attract the best people to ITV, so fostering an inclusive culture that welcomes all backgrounds is absolutely crucial.“