Diversity and inclusion policy

Our commitment

Our two programmes, XR Stories and the Screen Industries Growth Network (SIGN), work together to support screen industry development and sustainability. All that we do is informed and shaped by the values of equality, diversity and inclusivity (EDI). Recognising both the imperative and the opportunity inherent in our work through XR Stories and SIGN, we will ensure that EDI is a central part of our values and our behaviours, and integral to all we do. We will endeavour to show leadership in equality, diversity and inclusion at every level, embedding this approach across all of our activities.

This statement, and the strategy underpinning it, reflect our values and set out our aims, commitments, expectations and activities, as well as the processes and timescales for reporting our progress. The need is urgent and reflects the growing evidence of inequality as well as privilege and lack of diversity in both the screen industries and the higher education sector. We firmly believe that diversity enriches the development of creative ideas in the screen industries and the wider creative industries. We will play our part in the necessary culture change by sharing our commitment and values with our institutions, all members of our team, our partners and the businesses, agencies and individuals with whom we engage.

Our aims

SIGN aims to support the region’s screen industries through inclusive growth and sustainability, offering training, business development, research and evaluation and by embedding the values and practices of equality, diversity and inclusion in all that we do.

XR Stories seeks to enable SMEs to engage in research, innovation and development of creative and challenging products, services and experiences that involve diverse and inclusive digital storytelling, utilising the talent of all.

Our objectives

We will work to build on existing and new partnerships and reach new communities where diversity is valued, recognised and celebrated. We will proactively advance equality and inclusive practice and monitor our progress against a strategy which recognises that we have an opportunity to shape change internally, and externally alongside our partners and the industry. Our key objectives are:

  • To achieve an inclusive organisational culture, where everyone is treated with dignity, respect and care.
  • To reduce key barriers and systemic inequalities, and ensure equitable access to our funds and services, informed by evidence-based research and consultation.
  • To measure our performance and impact and modify our actions through reflection.
  • To establish an expectation that our partners will adopt EDI values and practices.

Our values and principles

As well as being integral to the SIGN and XR Stories Strategy, equality, diversity and inclusion underpin our organisational culture and shared values. To show this we will:

  • Demonstrate visible senior leadership on equality, diversity and inclusion, understanding and acting upon successes and failures resulting from our work.
  • Align and embed the strategy to encompass best practice, including adopting industry standards and targets.
  • Encourage everyone involved in our work to understand their responsibility to promote equality, diversity and inclusivity.


We are committed to an ongoing process of reviewing both the governance structure and the membership of key bodies, including the Executive Board and Steering Board, to ensure we are building in a diversity of views and including a range of voices as part of our processes of decision-making and accountability. As an essential part of our work, we will draw on a wide range of advisors, experts and advocates. Our Advisory Group will reflect people from all backgrounds and groups currently under represented in the industry and the academy to shape, challenge and inform our work.

Internal recruitment and staff development

All recruitment is undertaken in accordance with open and fair recruitment policies and involves wide and open advertisement, where appropriate, and structured interviews and assessment processes. We know that recruitment is just one part of fair and inclusive employment policy. We want every single team member to feel involved and valued, with views and input encouraged and respected. To this end, we hold regular full-team and small-group meetings, encourage contributions from all members of the team, celebrate achievements by all team members, and undertake an annual Performance and Development Review with all team members.

Collaboration – internally and externally

Our success will ultimately be built on successful collaboration: with departments in the University of York; with a network of other Yorkshire-based universities; with our funding and delivery partners; and with the organisations, businesses and individuals with whom we engage. A constructive working relationship with our funders and with other similar projects is an important part of a unified approach to increasing EDI.


We know that what we say matters as much as what we do and we are therefore committed to reaching out to, working with and communicating with all groups of people. In planning our events, writing our copy, designing our websites and thinking about our engagement we will ensure we are not just reflecting our industry, but changing the dial.

Funding: criteria, budgets and values

Our EDI aims are integral to both programmes, and to the activities and initiatives that we fund. In addition to setting out our values and communicating our aims, we also have a workstream specifically designed to improve diversity and inclusion in the industry, and EDI is one of the lenses through which we look to design all of our projects. We will listen to, learn from, and involve our target participants in the design and funding of our initiatives.

Adopting targets

We will be transparent about our aims and seek to adopt and employ best practice in terms of effective outreach and communication. We recognise that we will only change perceptions and practices if we adopt appropriately calibrated targets, and where appropriate hard targets, to ensure fair, diverse and inclusive participation in our activities and initiatives. Wherever possible, we will adopt targets that are accepted as industry standard, or required by our funders, partners and other key industry organisations.

We will calibrate our adopted standards to the aims and intentions of specific initiatives and activities, recognising that not all such activities will be addressed to the same participants. We will also ensure that our targets are calibrated to particular regional needs and circumstances. We will develop some initiatives where we think it is most useful to adopt aspirational EDI targets, and others that we think require strict EDI hard targets, seeking to develop best practice as we move forward. We will collect data to inform our policy and strategy, by undertaking new research and consultation and draw on existing research about EDI both regionally and nationally. We will review our targets on a regular basis in the light of the evidence we gather.

We will initially use the EDI targets below as a benchmark for our activities. These targets have been agreed by the BFI, BAFTA and the screen industry more widely, and are drawn from expert organisations such as the Social Mobility Commission and Stonewall. The targets are by no means perfect for all situations, but we will adopt them initially to guide our practice, modifying them where appropriate, and establishing quotas in some cases. We will use them to monitor and evaluate our progress, and where necessary take positive action to achieve better results.

  • 12% target for those identifying as D/deaf and disabled
  • 20% target for those identifying as belonging to underrepresented ethnicities
  • 50-50 gender balance
  • 10% target for those identifying as LGBTQ+

Embracing inclusivity and diversity in relation to socio-economic background is a huge issue in the industry and we are in discussion with the Social Mobility Commission to agree ways to gather data as well as support employers and wider organisations in tackling barriers due to lack of social capital and socio-economic backgrounds. This will become a strong feature in our research and ongoing work, as will understanding more about and taking account of intersectionality across the categories above.