WGGB joins Project Diamond boycott

WGGB has joined BECTU in boycotting broadcasters’ Project Diamond diversity initiative, following the broadcasters’ refusal to publish equality monitoring data for individual programmes or series.

The initiative, which is managed by the Creative Diversity Network, aims to capture the equality monitoring data of all those working on programmes commissioned by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky. The broadcasters have said that they will publish data only for genres and job grades.

BECTU’s Black Members’ Committee is adamant that this will fail to bring about any significant improvement in the under-representation of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) workers in television.

The broadcasters, however, have tended in effect to blame the problem on ethnic minority professionals – there aren’t enough, or they are not experienced enough – so their action has been generally focused on mentoring, placements and bringing in more new entrants.

Gerry Morrissey, head of BECTU, states: “By far the biggest problem is the attitudes and hiring practices of the gatekeepers. Too many hirers are unable to believe that minority ethnic professionals are capable of doing the job, no matter how much experience or how successful. To address this Project Diamond must publish the equality monitoring data by production so that we can identify who has a diverse crew, and can learn from their example, and who does not, so we can work with them to improve. Without this any BAME new entrants will find that their entrance is via a revolving door.”

At a meeting in February BECTU offered a compromise in which the broadcasters shared programme-level data with the unions on a confidential basis, a practice which has precedent. The broadcasters rejected even that.

Ellie Peers, WGGB Acting General Secretary, commented: “WGGB supports equality monitoring of freelance writers, it enables both employers and unions to identify the good, the bad and the ugly and to work collectively to stamp out discriminatory practices.

“WGGB actively supported the project but now withdraws this support because programme-level data collected by Project Diamond will not be shared, even in confidence, with recognised trade unions.

“So if our negotiators asked the same question that we asked broadcasters prior to Project Diamond – ‘How many women or BAME writers have been commissioned on X programme over the past series?’ – we still wouldn’t get an answer. The only difference between then and now is that where previously the broadcasters couldn’t answer, now they won’t answer. Project Diamond is a golden opportunity for positive change within our industry but only if there is transparency.”

WGGB says that equality monitoring forms should still be completed and submitted by writers but, unless the broadcasters reconsider and publish the data requested, WGGB will not actively support or promote Project Diamond, as it has done since the project started.