the upReach view, Jade Azim, Programme Coordinator
Recent comments from BBC Director-General Lord Hall on the BBC’s difficulties with tackling social exclusivity serve as a positive recognition of an issue that has long affected the creative industries. Though the problem is well-known, the extent of the issue continues to surprise.
There is a substantive history of evidence demonstrating that many professional sectors favour candidates with a considerable network. However, Lord Hall’s words on broadcasting in particular remaining a ‘relationship-based, ‘who you know’ industry’ reflects a particularly pertinent problem with the creative industries specifically.
Elsewhere, the industry suffers from having a disproportionately large amount of unpaid internships, which benefit middle-class aspiring candidates. But networks remain a prime suspect for why working class individuals cannot find opportunities to simply access the industry.
Lord Hall noting that these factors create conditions in which not only are well-off candidates more able to take up opportunities, but they are actively favoured by the industry and large institutions like the BBC is a welcome change in rhetoric for an issue that is often unspoken.
We would welcome a drive for social diversity in the BBC and further afield in the creative industries. Given the evidence of the industry’s continued struggle with access, creative organisations should ensure they tackle not only unconscious bias but active bias too, and must then actively engage in means to improve them. This should go beyond words, however. If Lord Hall and other conscientious individuals with the power to make change in the industry are serious about doing so, they should make practical changes to their cultures and their recruitment processes. We believe these can be achieved in collaboration with organisations such as upReach, who can work to shine a light on an undiscovered pool of talented candidates from less-advantaged backgrounds, and ensuring they are provided with as many opportunities as their well-off peers.