BBC diversity report: 50% women on all shows

BBC diversity report: 50% women on all shows

The BBC has a workforce diversity plan setting as targets 50% gender diversity, 20% ethnicity and 12% disability. In its creative diversity and inclusion report for 2020, the company notes that it has driven inclusive representation on-screen and on-air, but that  change is going more slowly of-screen. Its 50:50 gender equality project aimed at making more women participate in TV and radio programs has spread and is now a model also for other media companies, universities etc.

For off-screen, the company has a 20% diversity target for all new TV commissions ”to ensure we have a diverse range of storytellers creating content that better reflects all audiences.”

BBC says it has made the largest financial investment within the creative industry prioritising GBP 100 million and GBP 12 million respectively from its TV and radio commissioning budgets to drive change across  output of programs.


”Covid-19 has had a profound impact on all aspects of our lives. Within the creative industry we have seen the forced closure of many of our productions, the financial risk to small production companies and independent suppliers, the disproportionate health risks for those from ethnic minorities and/or with a disability, and the uncertainty of the long-term impacts to our industry from the global economy.”

”The killing of George Floyd launched a global movement that forced the world to step up and address the issue around race, racism and race inequality.”

”Never has there been a greater need to ensure underrepresented groups see themselves reflected at all levels of our industry. It has been a challenging year, but also an opportunity for real change across the diversity agenda; the business case for inclusion has never been clearer and the moment to capitalise on it has to be now.”


Among actions for 2021, the report mentions:

*developing creative diversity toolkits including an at-a-glance comparison indicator for our content-makers to see how closely their output reflects the diversity of the UK.

  • Partnering with workforce diversity team to ensure better representation within the leadership of our commissioning teams and achieve 20% diverse talent of-air/screen.
  • Instilling cultural confidence through forums for regular dialogue on topics such as race and racism to help our employees respond to content credibly and responsibly, and ensure they make informed decisions about culturally sensitive issues.

The 50:50 gender project started from within. The grassroots initiative began in the heart of the London newsroom with one TV News program – Outside Source. In 2017, its presenter Ros Atkins asked his team if they would monitor the number of men and women on their show to improve their representation of women contributors and reach 50:50.

Others in the newsroom heard about the initiative and 50:50 started to spread. In 2020, more than 600 teams across 35 countries used the methodology to increase women’s representation on BBC content

The report shows that in March 2020, two-thirds of datasets achieved the target of 50% women contributors, nine percentage points up. Of the programs involved in 50:50 for two years or more, those reaching 50% women increased to 78%.


The company stresses that the audience has noticed the development. In a survey of 2 000 people, 39% said they had noticed a shift over the last two years towards more women in BBC online content. 32% of women aged 25 to 34 said they consume more BBC online content because of greater female representation.

The BBC reports that a new challenge is that BBC teams should use the same way of measure to monitor disability and ethnicity and thus further improve the diversity of voices across the company´s content.

The 50:50 gender project has spread and today the 50:50 Project supports 75 partners in 22 countries from across the media, communications, business, legal and universities using the same simple way of monitoring how gender equality develops.

The report notes that radio comes with its own set of challenges as diversity is something that is heard rather than seen, so perceptions of diversity rely on accents, names, subjects and first hand opinions of lived experience.

Moonshot News is an independent European news website for all IT, Media and Advertising professionals, powered by women and with a focus on driving the narrative for diversity, inclusion and gender equality in the industry.

Our mission is to provide top and unbiased information for all professionals and to make sure that women get their fair share of voice in the news and in the spotlight!

We produce original content, news articles, a curated calendar of industry events and a database of women IT, Media and Advertising associations.

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