NEWS2 November 2022

Ofcom overhauls broadcasters’ diversity data collection

Inclusion Media News UK

UK – Ofcom is changing how it collects data from TV and radio broadcasters on the level of diversity within their organisations, and has updated its guidance to place more emphasis on workplace inclusion.

TV viewer

Ofcom has collected and reported broadcasters’ workforce diversity data through an annual quantitative survey since 2016, allowing it to monitor the makeup of broadcasters’ staff.

The regulator has made several changes to its quantitative data collection tool, including differences in the language and terminology used, as well as expanding the list of answer options available, following an evaluation that began in April this year.

Among the changes are the substitution of three questions on sex and gender identity. In addition to a mandatory question on the breakdown of the workforce by sex, the survey will now include two voluntary questions on the number of employees who identify as a gender that is different from the sex they were assigned at birth, and a further voluntary question on how individual employees within that group identify.

Ofcom will also remove the term ‘BAME’ from the ‘other’ option list in the race and ethnicity section of the survey, and instead ask broadcasters to provide more specific ethnicity data.

Additional new requests for information on a voluntary basis will now include questions on caring responsibilities, diversity data by nation and region, and other cross-sectional data.

The changes will take effect from April 2023, when the next questionnaire is due to be sent to broadcasters.

In addition to the updates to the quantitative survey, Ofcom has developed a qualitative data collection tool in partnership with Radius Networks. The ‘maturity model’ approach to collecting qualitative workforce data aims to monitor improvements to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and understand the changing diversity and inclusion priorities for broadcasters.

Ofcom said the model would offer “a more transparent approach” to tracking progress of individual broadcasters and the industry over time.

Results will be used to help the regulator assess whether broadcasters are meeting their licence conditions, and will also be available to broadcasters to help inform and develop their diversity initiatives.

The regulator’s latest diversity data, published today ( 2nd November), shows that overall representation of minority ethnic groups increased to 15% of workers across eight of the UK’s largest TV and radio broadcasters, but remains below that for major cities in which a number of broadcasters have a strong presence.

The figures also found that disabled people and people from working class backgrounds continue to be significantly underrepresented in the workforce of broadcasters.

Ofcom has also updated its guidance for broadcasters to place more emphasis on “the importance of creating a more inclusive workplace”, including specific recommendations for working practices.

The regulator said in a statement: “We want to make sure that we are reflecting broader societal changes and refining the information we collect and publish, in order to help broadcasters embed EDI at every level in their organisations and to support a diverse and dynamic broadcasting sector.”