The Big Issue: Diversity and Inclusion

by Alasdair Weddell, Director of Media at UKTV

London Pride 2017 | Mark Nortcliffe Photography | www.markno

London Pride 2017 | Mark Nortcliffe Photography |

May 2018

If you told your boss you knew of a sure-fire way to improve business performance, increase employee retention and boost innovation you'd more than likely be met by keen interest. Go on to explain that diversity and inclusion is how you'll achieve it and often you'll see that interest peter away. Generally speaking, this isn't because people doubt the tangible value diversity initiatives bring, more likely it's because they already feel the industry is tackling the issue, or they aren't considering diversity in its broadest form. There might also be a sense of apathy, not to mention it's difficult to get it right and we can all be guilty of putting things in the 'too hard' basket.

However, monitoring suggests we do need to tackle this issue: Ofcom has said we need to improve representation for ethnic minorities and disabled people; recent reporting confirms the existence of a gender pay gap in the industry; and only one media company made it into Stonewall's 2018 Work Equality Index Top 100 - that is compared to four organisations in defence and security, meaning the Royal Marines are more LGBT+ friendly than much of the media industry. But monitoring is just the beginning, doing something about it is a far bigger challenge.

Developing and leveraging diverse voices within the workplace not only helps to address diversity metrics but benefits the whole business.

Mentoring is one method of nurturing multiple perspectives and ensuring they're heard. But most mentoring programs are geared to management levels, and consequently often fail to provide role models from a full range of backgrounds. Small and medium sized organisations are also disadvantaged for the same reason. That's why we are launching our own diversity mentoring scheme with a difference. The scheme looks beyond UKTV Leadership to provide mentors to colleagues at all levels of the business from a range of different backgrounds.

We've recruited mentors who have a shared enthusiasm for diversity and inclusion and a desire to address an industry-wide concern. Media experts such as Matt Scarff, director of ITV Creative and ITV Experiences, Rebecca Hughes, creative director at Hearts & Science, Sonia Sudhakar, marketing director at Guardian News & Media, and Sophia Ahmed, director of customer engagement at Sky, have signed up to take part in the initiative. And they will be joined by senior members from UKTV's leadership team such as chief executive Darren Childs, chief technology and operations officer Sinead Greenaway, and Zoe Clapp, chief marketing and communications officer.

There's a waterline of invisibility with many aspects of diversity and this is something we are directly addressing through this initiative. We're thinking about diversity in its broadest possible sense. In addition to the familiar protected characteristics (age, gender, race, sexual orientation and so on), we're also thinking about things such as socio-economic background, education, working parents, even psychological preference.

A key success factor is for businesses to approach the topic with business outcomes in mind. Too often diversity initiatives are handed off to HR teams to tackle by themselves. The best outcomes happen when business partners work with support from HR colleagues to apply best practices throughout all its activities. At UKTV our HR team have an open dialogue with colleagues and are creating a diversity and inclusion group made up of colleagues across the company. And it's important because it makes good business sense.

Leveraging diverse perspectives is critical to build business capability and to provide a fully inclusive culture. It's time we all took diversity and inclusion seriously.

Alasdair Weddell
Director of Media, UKTV