BBC HR team defends record on minorities

The BBC’s team responsible for diversity has hit back after the director-general last week accused the corporation of being “hideously white”.

In a radio interview in Scotland, Greg Dyke attacked the corporation for its inability to retain and promote staff from ethnic minorities. He claimed that in a recent meeting of 80 senior BBC managers only one was from an ethnic minority.

But Linda Mitchell, the BBC’s head of diversity, is confident that the BBC will hit its targets for ethnic minority employees. Last April, the corporation set targets to increase staff from ethnic minorities to 10 per cent of the BBC’s UK workforce and to 4 per cent of senior managers by 2003.

She said, “The equal opportunities policy incorporated into our retention, promotion and appraisal procedures ensures that our workforce is diverse enough.”

Currently, less than 2 per cent of the BBC’s senior managers and less than 8 per cent of BBC staff are from ethnic minorities.

Mitchell admitted, “There are people within the organisation whose talent and potential isn’t recognised.”

She believes the solution lies in raising managers’ awareness of how to manage a diverse workforce.

But Gerry Morrissey, assistant general secretary of the union Bectu, argued that simply raising managers’ awareness is not enough. He said, “The BBC needs to lay down quotas for ethnic minorities.”

By Karen Higginbottom

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