While women comprise 38% of those working in the screen industries in the UK, they represent only 14% of directors on British film productions – with this figure dropping to 1% for women from ethnic minority backgrounds. In general, people from ethnic minority backgrounds are underrepresented in senior positions in the screen industries. Of those working in the screen industries, only 25% come from working class backgrounds, 13 percentage points lower than across all UK industries. There is also under-representation relating to age, disability and caring responsibilities; and there are stark regional inequalities.
A toolkit, commissioned by SIGN from the Bridge Group looks at ways in which these inequalities can be addressed. The toolkit is informed by senior people working in the sector, who acknowledge that the context in which the industry operates means that change isn’t easy. For example, the screen industries are currently experiencing a skills shortage and operating under the economic pressures which flow from commissioning. Employers reported that experience of working in the sector is widely viewed as the most important factor in gaining work, but observed that there is an underdeveloped conversation around socio-economic background and barriers to access. Employers also pointed to examples of good practice in diversity and inclusion in the screen industries – while noting that these tended to be ‘pockets’ of good practice, rather than systemic.
The toolkit outlines examples of good practice in a range of organisations:
- Resource Productions for doing apprenticeships well
- Vanitas Arts for developing inclusive training programmes
- TAPE for practising co-production
- Ukie for hosting events with purpose
- BBC for collecting the relevant data
- Idle Work Factory for working with local trainees
The case studies illustrate that organisations of all types, both large and small, can contribute to the diversity and inclusion agenda.
Commissioning organisations have a key role in developing a more diverse and inclusive screen industries sector, since the requirements they set drive much current practice. For example, they can factor in geography when commissioning and look locally for skills and experience when setting up a project. They can explore the options for remote working. And it is important to ensure that budgets and timelines reflect respectively the resource and time required to recruit accessibly and inclusively.
There are plenty of practicable options for small organisations too. These include advertising roles beyond traditional professional networks, including relevant practical information in job descriptions and allowing enough time to recruit inclusively. And all organisations can commit to hiring a minimum number of people with no prior experience on each project.
The toolkit also provides advice for small organisations who can provide training and development opportunities for their staff, or undertake outreach to help grow the numbers of people from diverse backgrounds applying for jobs.
Networking and collaboration are key areas of development for both large and small organisations. Working together and co-ordinating across the screen industries helps organisations to pool resources, share ideas and challenge cultural norms which will achieve large-scale change.
Collecting the right data is critical for understanding the problem. The toolkit provides guidance on what information to collect on employees, contractors, and candidates – and on how to do so, while respecting privacy and confidentiality.