BBC’s diversity directive: Director Tim Davie launches ‘top to bottom’ shake-up


BBC’s woke diversity drive: Corporation boss Tim Davie wants 95% of staff to complete ‘unconscious bias’ training, 80% to declare their social class and 50% of all gay employees to be ‘out’

  • Diversity plan was revealed in a report published by the corporation today 
  • The BBC will require 95% of staff to complete unconscious bias training 
  • Broadcaster is also aiming for 50% of LGBT people to be ‘out’ at work 
  • Cabinet Office banned unconscious bias training for civil servants  

The shake-up under new director general Tim Davie includes mandatory unconscious bias training for 95% of staff 

The BBC has announced a new diversity directive which will require 95% of staff to complete ‘unconscious bias’ training and which aims for 80% to declare their social class.

The corporation is also aiming for 50% of LGBT employees to be ‘out’ at work, based on the proportion of people identifying as gay or transgender who state in an annual staff survey that they have revealed their sexuality to their manager.

The BBC says it wants a 50-50 split of male and female staff and is in the process of launching a ‘staff census… that will for the first time capture non-binary or non-conforming identities’.  

The mandatory requirement for nearly all employees to undertake unconscious bias training is likely to face criticism, as many experts consider the technique to be ineffective in preventing discrimination and even harmful.

The Cabinet Office says of unconscious bias training: ‘A strong body of evidence has emerged that shows that such training has no sustained impact on behaviour and may even be counter-productive.

‘Instructions to suppress stereotypes may not only activate and reinforce unhelpful stereotypes, they may provoke negative reactions and actually make people exacerbate their biases.’

The training, which is intended to identify people’s ingrained biases in the hope that they can recognise and eliminate them, is no longer used for civil servants in England due to fears it does not work. 

Among the measures announced in the report –  

  • 95% of staff will be required to complete unconscious bias training by 2022;
  • Bosses will aim for a 50-50 split of male and female staff;
  • Target for 20% of workforce to be BAME and at least 12% disabled’;
  • Aim for 50% of LGBT people to be ‘out’ to their manager; 
  • 100 ‘diverse role models’ will be identified for a publicity campaign.  
The corporation is also aiming for 50% of LGBT people to be 'out' at work, based on the proportion of people identifying as gay or transgender who state in an annual staff survey that they have revealed their sexuality to their manager

The corporation is also aiming for 50% of LGBT people to be ‘out’ at work, based on the proportion of people identifying as gay or transgender who state in an annual staff survey that they have revealed their sexuality to their manager

The ‘top to bottom’ shake-up under new director general Tim Davie will also include training ‘for other areas of allyship’ – a term meaning that a member of a dominant group supports the interests of a marginalised one.

The broadcaster’s 2021-23 plan, which comes after a review, details proposals to increase entry-level opportunities, overhaul recruitment and tackle ‘non-inclusive behaviours’ amongst its staff.

It also includes a ‘significant boost’ to the number of apprenticeship spots offered each year.

Mr Davie announced in September during his introductory speech that the broadcaster’s workforce would in the next three to five years become 50% women, at least 20% Bame and at least 12% disabled.

According to the BBC, the ‘ambitious plans’ will make it ‘the most inclusive and diverse workforce in the media sector’.

The measures also include the introduction of ‘inclusive behaviour training’ and a ‘toolkit’ to improve listening and decision making.

Mr Davie said: ‘We must, from top to bottom, represent the audiences we serve. We have made some big improvements, but we want and need to go further.

‘This plan will ensure we are a modern, progressive, welcoming organisation where our staff are supported to deliver outstanding creative work and background is no barrier.

A graphic from the BBC report showing the corporations diversity targets - including a gender-balanced workforce

A graphic from the BBC report showing the corporations diversity targets – including a gender-balanced workforce  

‘Having the right mix of people, ideas and experiences at the BBC will mean we continue to provide world-class content for everybody.’

The plan will also ‘identify and champion 100 diverse role models’ as part of a new campaign to prevent to attract more ethnic minority job applicants.

Anne Foster, who leads the BBC’s workforce diversity and inclusion team, said: ‘I am passionate about working to create a BBC that reflects the diversity of the UK and is somewhere people feel proud to work.

‘Every aspect of our plans are shaped by extensive consultation with staff to ensure we can lay a strong foundation for a modern, transformed BBC.’ 

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