The BBC has failed to reach its 2020 target for Black, Asian and minority ethic (BAME) leaders, the broadcaster has admitted.
In a briefing on Tuesday morning to outline the corporation’s annual report, new director-general Tim Davie told journalists that the organisation must “do better on diversity”.
The BBC launched a report in 2018, “Reflecting the ethnic diversity of the UK within the BBC workforce”, that committed to a 15% BAME leadership target by 2020.
It also pledged to appoint at least two BAME members on every senior leadership group by the end of 2020.
This came as June Sarpong was appointed the BBC’s first director of creative diversity.
She told BBC Radio 4′s The Media Show last month: “I think the BBC, like many big media organisations, is diverse at sort of entry level. But certainly not diverse enough in terms of mid-level and senior leadership, not at all. I think anybody would agree and accept that.
“If you look at the targets that we’ve set ourselves, we’re not hitting them in the way we would like and so there’s a concerted effort being made to try and address that.”
The annual report, which covers April 2019 to March 2020, also shows that there has been an increase in levels of trust and perceptions of the accuracy and impartiality of BBC News, with a higher proportion of people choosing BBC News as the source they trust most.
However, BAME groups have reported lower levels of BBC usage than their white counterparts.
Dozens of current and former Black employees from departments across the corporation gave worrying accounts ranging from being denied career development opportunities to being bullied and then silenced by an ineffective complaints procedure.
We were also told that morale is at an “all-time low” among Black BBC staff who were banned from publicly supporting Black Lives Matter but watched on as their employer defended its use of the N-word.
Davie expressed an intention to “talk to staff” about these allegations, “go through the whole procedure” and take appropriate action.
Responding to a question from HuffPost UK on Tuesday, he said: “This has to be an environment that’s truly diverse, truly inclusive. I think overall the BBC can be proud of its record – but (that’s not to say that) an organisation our size, there will be issues, there will be things to deal with.
“Things like that, we’re not ignoring them – any BBC staff know this now – we will fully investigate and take action as necessary.”
The report also identifies that there is a risk that the BBC “fails to adapt, capitalise and provide high quality, relevant content and services to all license fee payers including underserved audiences (Black, Asian and minority ethnic)”.
To represent the public better, the BBC set out a Creative Diversity Commitment to prioritise £100m of the existing TV commissioning budget - and £12m of the existing radio budget - over three years from 2021/22 towards diverse and inclusive content.
It has also set a new mandatory 20% off air diverse-talent target in all new network commissions from April 2021.
At the moment, BAME off-screen diversity stands at just 9.8% and on-screen is 26.8%.