ScreenSkills conference addresses industries' diversity and inclusion challenges

Only 4% of public service broadcaster professionals identify as LGBT+, 13% have a black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) background and 6% have a disability. Just 19% of people working in the games industry is female and BAME representation in VFX is 15%.

Panel discussion at Diversity in Action with Gareth  Ellis-Unwin (ScreenSkills), Nina Baghwat (Channel 4), Julia Brown (BFI), Babita Bahal (BBC) and Cameron Roach (Sky Studios)

Committed to changing these worrying statistics, ScreenSkills organised a half-day conference about the practical ways in which diversity and inclusion in the screen industries can be improved.

Around 75 screen industry professionals heard ScreenSkills CEO Seetha Kumar open the event with an account of some of the struggles she experienced in the early years of her career as a producer. “It is hard when you apply for jobs and you know even as you are doing so that you are unlikely to get an equal shot…There are so many odds you battle against – being a woman, a mother, an Asian,” she said. “The reason I am sharing my story is because one thing I have realised is that people often have good intentions. What trips them up is their blindspots and, of course, their fears.”

However, Seetha concluded that “today there is a genuine drive for change.”

ScreenSkills is committed to building a more diverse and inclusive workforce. This includes enabling people from a wide range of backgrounds and circumstances a pathway into the industry as well as helping people step up. “More than ever, it is important we share insights and experience of practical doing,” she said.

ScreenSkills executives Kaye Elliott (high-end TV) and Gareth Ellis-Unwin (film and animation) then gave an overview of some of the diversity initiatives ScreenSkills supports in television and film, including Trainee Finder, Make a Move, In-house runners programme, Grips for Heroes, Film On and BIFA Unconscious Bias Training.

Afterwards delegates participated in training sessions and workshops on the following topics:

  • Unconscious bias – covering parts of the BIFA Voter Unconscious Bias training pilot, Luise Usiskin (Challenge Consultancy) introduced attendees to the concept unconscious bias and what can be done to tackle it.
  • Inclusive leadership – in the session that is based on the high-end TV leadership essential training pilot Addie Orfila talked about managing diverse teams and dealing with bullying and harassment on the work floor.
  • Recruiting disabled talent – in this breakout session participants were able to ask a qualified employment solicitor advice on recruiting disabled talent. The session was based on a disability awareness training pilot for TV and led by Poppy Lucas (Karbottle & Lewis LLP) and Edi Smockum (thinkBIGGER!).
  • Recruiting returners and job-sharers – A panel discussion featuring Louise Patel (My Telly Job), Nahrein Kemp (Film London), Amy Walker (Media Parents) and Hope Dickson Leach (Raising Films) on recruiting returners and job-sharers.
  • Monitoring diversity and meeting diversity standards – A panel discussion with Cameron Roach (Sky Studios), Babita Bahal (BBC) and Nina Bhagwat (Channel 4) about ways in which broadcasters can improve diversity, followed by a conversation between Julia Brown (BFI) and Gareth Ellis-Unwin (ScreenSkills) on how his film Steel Country met the BFI Diversity Standards.

Films of some of the conference will be available on the website soon.

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