BBC’s director of people looks to the future after diversity failings

The BBC’s people chief has admitted the corporation needs to do more on improving diversity as it launched a renewed drive.

Steve Kelly said that from May the broadcaster would spend £750,000 on its biggest project to fill more top positions with ethnic minority and disabled staff.

The positive action campaign will see 90 existing employees join a mentoring and development programme over the next three years, covering jobs in a range of broadcast and back-office roles. Candidates will undertake a year-long mentoring programme, which includes coaching sessions with senior executives matched to the applicants.

The BBC has failed to meet its target for ethnic minorities at senior management level. In 2004, only 4.4% of managers were from minority backgrounds last year that figure had fallen to 4.3% against a target of 7%. “Hundreds of diversity initiatives in the past have failed to impact on this particular glass ceiling,” Kelly said in the BBC’s in-house magazine last week.

Speaking to Personnel Today, Kelly, director of BBC people, said: “[The new scheme] is not about past failings, it’s about recognising that we need to do more.” He admitted that in the past the BBC has spread its efforts too thinly and had not stuck with initiatives for long enough.

Kelly insisted that the latest project was not target led but a “long-term commitment”. Success would be measured in terms of career progression and whether people actually got jobs, he added. “One of the things we have to look at is targets that better reflect geographical employment markets and population,” he said.

Former director-general Greg Dyke previously described the corporation as “hideously white”. And only last month, comedian Lenny Henry lambasted the BBC and other broadcasters for not employing enough black staff.

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