By Rimmi Shah and Jon Cronin, Directors and BBC 50:50 Project Leads at Lansons.
The BBC’s pioneering 50:50 Project is gradually changing the face of the media, as part of the biggest collective action on increasing representation in journalism and news content.
To give it its full title, 50:50 The Equality Project is committed to inspiring and supporting the BBC and organisations around the globe to consistently create journalism and media content that fairly represents society.
At Lansons, we’ve been proud to join other global news organisations, such as the Financial Times and ABC Australia, to be an official founding partner of the BBC in the 50:50 Project.
For us, what sets 50:50 The Equality Project apart from other declarations on equality and diversity in the media is one simple thing: a commitment to measuring performance and sharing that data.
The project began in 2017 with one BBC news programme making a commitment to increase the number of women it featured as contributors. It quickly gained momentum as a grassroots movement across the BBC. Hundreds of BBC programme teams have now signed up to monitor and take steps towards 50:50 representation of women and men contributors.
And the impact is being felt. A recent survey of 2,000 BBC online users by YouGov showed that 39% of those polled noticed a shift in content to greater female representation, while some 40% of 16 to 34-year olds said they enjoyed the content more.
For Lansons, our early involvement represented a further extension of our commitment to vital issues surrounding equality, diversity and inclusion. We’ve used the project as a means of reflection, to celebrate what we’ve achieved and understand more about what we can do to attain equal gender representation in all the content we produce.
At a recent 50:50 event hosted by Lansons, Nina Goswami, the BBC’s Creative Diversity Lead, revealed the Corporation was now working with 75 partners across 22 countries. The goal, though, is to extend the reach of 50:50 far beyond that.
Nina also spoke about plans to expand the scope of 50:50 The Equality Project, from an initiative focusing on gender balance in media content and journalism, to one measuring ethnicity and diversity across the board. Such a push couldn’t come at a more important time.
Each year diversity, equality and inclusion seems to edge that little bit higher in our consciousness, in our corporate lives. Initiatives such as gender pay gap reporting, 30% Club, the Women in Finance Charter have all played their part in this.
This year the issue of race has risen in our social awareness. Businesses are realising that they need to understand and reflect the society in which we live, just as the media recognises the power that an image, voice or accent of diverse reporters and spokespeople will have in engaging with a wider audience.
Change rarely happens by accident; it is our conscious choices and actions that lead to change. There will always be those that believe that “it’s too hard”. But as we, and the BBC are seeing, choosing to acknowledge that we aren’t reaching as many people as we can is part of the solution.
The BBC believes it is ultimately a better news organisation as a result of featuring more diverse voices. We believe continuing to focus on equality will make us an even better place to work and that we can continue to bring a wide range of perspectives to our clients through our consultancy.
Perhaps 2021 will be the year that your organisation also chooses to proactively embrace the 50:50 Project? If so we would love to share our experience with you to help you along the way, so please do reach out and let us know.
Find out more about our journey with the BBC 50:50 project.
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