Equity has welcomed the launch of broadcast equality monitoring project Diamond, claiming it will hold the television industry to account on diversity issues.
The broadcasters will submit data for individuals working both on and off screen on factual and scripted productions, with information including ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age.
Equity said it welcomed the “long overdue” Diamond, which has been developed by the Creative Diversity Network.
“Equity will be watching closely. The industry-wide focus on diversity in recent years has been hamstrung by a fundamental lack of evidence – evidence that is crucial in holding employers to account For the first time Diamond will deliver crucial data to track performance,” a statement from the union said.
It added: “With the launch of this historic system, there will be no going back and nowhere to hide. Rightly, expectations are high – and we will join campaigners, members of the public and others in holding the broadcasters to their commitments on diversity.”
The data provided by the four broadcasters will monitor the diversity of people working on the programme, as well as how an audience might perceive their diversity, allowing the industry to monitor how people from different backgrounds are portrayed on screen.
Diamond’s data will be anonymised and aggregated so that it can be used by the CDN and the participating broadcasters to monitor the industry’s workforce.
An initial set of data will be published in 2017, with regular, more detailed, reports planned to follow.
Amanda Ariss, CDN executive director, said: “Despite the efforts already being made, the UK’s broadcast industry still does not reflect the diversity of the UK and as a result we are missing out on brilliant creative talent. By establishing an accurate picture of diversity in the industry, Diamond will help broadcasters and producers better focus their efforts and resources to achieve the results we all want to see.”
Channel 5 is due to join the project shortly, while it will also extend into news and sport programmes in 2017.
Last week, BECTU expressed concerns over Diamond’s transparency, calling for the CDN to publish data for individual programmes.
“There is evidence stretching back 20 years that transparency of television companies’ diversity record concentrates corporate attention on the issue and drives improvement, and that secrecy allows the industry to forget about it,” the union’s general secretary Gerry Morrissey said.
Actor Lenny Henry has been a prolific campaigner on diversity issues, most recently calling on the BBC to make a commitment to improving diversity in its new Royal Charter.