Diversity and inclusion policy

Our commitment

XR Stories and the Screen Industries Growth Network (SIGN), worked together to support screen industry development and sustainability. All activities were 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 ensured that EDI was a central part of our values and our behaviours. We endeavoured to show leadership in equality, diversity and inclusion at every level, and embedded this approach across all of our activities.

This statement, and the strategy underpinning it, reflected our values and set out our aims, commitments, expectations and activities, as well as the processes and timescales for reporting our progress. The need reflected the growing evidence of inequality as well as privilege and lack of diversity in both the screen industries and the higher education sector. Diversity enriches the development of creative ideas in the screen industries and the wider creative industries. We played 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 who we engaged with.

Our aims

SIGN aimed 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 activities.

XR Stories seeks to enable businesses, organisations and researchers 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 worked to build on existing and new partnerships and reach new communities where diversity is valued, recognised and celebrated. We proactively advanced equality and inclusive practice and monitored our progress against a strategy which recognised that we have an opportunity to shape change internally, and externally alongside our partners and the industry. Our key objectives were:

  • 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 underpinned our organisational culture and shared values. To show this we:

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


We 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 built in a diversity of views and included a range of voices as part of our processes of decision-making and accountability. As an essential part of our work, we drew on a wide range of advisors, experts and advocates. Our Advisory Group reflected 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 was undertaken in accordance with open and fair recruitment policies and involved wide and open advertisement, where appropriate, and structured interviews and assessment processes. We recognised that recruitment is just one part of fair and inclusive employment policy. Our aim was for every single team member to feel involved and valued, with views and input encouraged and respected. We held regular full-team and small-group meetings, encouraged contributions from all members of the team, celebrated achievements by all team members, and carried out an annual Performance and Development Review with all team members.

Collaboration – internally and externally

Our success was 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 we engaged with. A constructive working relationship with our funders and with other similar projects was an important part of a unified approach to increasing EDI.


We were 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 ensured that we were not just reflecting our industry, but changing the dial.

Funding: criteria, budgets and values

Our EDI aims were integral to both programmes, and to the activities and initiatives that we funded. In addition to setting out our values and communicating our aims, we also put in place a workstream specifically designed to improve diversity and inclusion in the industry. We looked to design all of our projects through an EDI lense and we listened to, learned from and involved our target participants in the design and funding of our initiatives.

Adopting targets

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

We calibrated our adopted standards to the aims and intentions of specific initiatives and activities, recognising that not all such activities would be addressed to the same participants. We ensured that our targets were calibrated to particular regional needs and circumstances. We developed some initiatives where we considered it most useful to adopt aspirational EDI targets, and others that we considered to need strict EDI hard targets, to develop best practice as we moved forward. We collected data to inform our policy and strategy, undertaking new research and consultation and drawing on existing research about EDI both regionally and nationally. We reviewed our targets on a regular basis in the light of the evidence we gathered.

We used the EDI targets below as a benchmark for our activities. These targets were agreed by the BFI, BAFTA and the screen industry more widely, and were drawn from expert organisations such as the Social Mobility Commission and Stonewall. The targets are by no means perfect for all situations, but we adopted them initially to guide our practice, modifying them where appropriate, and establishing quotas in some cases. We used them to monitor and evaluate our progress, and where necessary took 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 held discussions 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 became a strong feature in our research and ongoing work, as did understanding more about and taking account of intersectionality across the categories above.