Channel 4 commits to being anti-racist organisation

Category: News Release

CEO Alex Mahon sets out new six-point commitment to be a driver of anti-racism in the industry and improve black and minority ethnic representation

Channel 4 today set out a new and clear commitment to be an anti-racist organisation and committed to redouble its efforts to improve diversity and representation of black, Asian and minority ethnic people on and off-screen – using its influence in the creative industries and society at large to do more to drive anti-racism.

CEO, Alex Mahon today outlined six clear commitments across all areas of its business to underpin this and ensure that Channel 4 is a driver of positive change. This includes a new creative commitment to double the number of BAME-led independent producers commissioned from by 2023 and commercially, this year’s £1million Diversity in Advertising Award will be focused on BAME representation in advertising.

She said: “The death of George Floyd and the reaction it has caused has highlighted the depth of racism, be it structural or individual, that still confronts black and minority ethnic people here in the UK, in the United States and elsewhere in the world.

“It has made us question ourselves again about whether we are doing enough to tackle racism, and how we are using our position as a public service broadcaster with diversity in our DNA, to drive positive change in our industry and in society at large.  

“As is clear from the testimonies of our black and minority ethnic colleagues in the industry we are not doing enough and there is not enough progress.  Therefore, I want to clearly set out today that Channel 4 is an organisation committed to anti-racism and we want to go further in driving positive change within our own organisation and in the creative industries. 

“We’re setting out a clear six-point plan for ensuring this is embedded in every part of our activity, on and off-screen.   We know this won’t address all the issues, and that the term BAME is imperfect and covers a diversity of different experiences itself, but we are committed to acting on the feedback we get.”

Channel 4’s six-point commitment to anti-racism:

  1. Anti-racist: We commit to being an anti-racist organisation
  • We are wholeheartedly committed to being an anti-racist organisation – and to calling out and acting upon racism wherever we see it.
  • We will use our position as a public service broadcaster, our content and our platforms to educate our audience on anti-racism, and drive positive change – in our organisation, in the creative industries and in society.
  • We will always act where concerns about racism are raised in our organisation or on our programmes.
  1. Our Staff: We commit to strive for BAME equity as an employer
  • We are committed to the target that 20% of Channel 4 staff, and 20% of the top 100 paid staff, will be BAME by 2023. 
  • Today we are at 17% of total and 14% of top 100 and we must go further and faster to hit this target.
  • We believe that by having diversity amongst our most senior decision makers we will unlock change.
  • We will launch a new mentoring programme for our diverse staff in 2020 so that they can develop their careers.
  • We will continue to voluntarily report our BAME pay-gap as we have done since 2019 and we are committed to continuing to narrow it.  Channel 4’s BAME pay gap was 15% in March 2020.
  • We are committed to the Race at Work charter.
  • We commit to ensuring that The Collective – our employee representative group for black and minority ethnic staff – will help us deliver positive change within the business.
  1. Our Content: We commit to commissioning relevant and authentic content – that reflects the lives of BAME audiences on an ongoing basis
  • A new commitment to double the number of BAME-led independent producers that we commission from by 2023. On the main channel there were eight BAME-led indies commissioned in 2019, and a further 12 were in paid development – in total making up 11% of suppliers.
  • We have commissioned a series of short films by black British film-makers responding to George Floyd’s death and exploring the profound resonance with Black Britons.
  • We are commissioning a series of longer films exploring different aspects of the black experience and questions about race in modern Britain.
  • We commit to ensuring that the lives and experiences of BAME audiences are reflected in programming across all our genres.
  • We will drive up genuine BAME authorship of our output by increasing the number of black directors, execs and writers we work with.
  • We will strive to ensure all our shows meet Channel 4’s commissioning diversity guidelines.
  • We are committed to DIAMOND reporting on diversity and will use the data to improve our representation. 
  1. Our Faces: We commit to fair BAME representation on screen
  • We commit to BAME representation being at or higher than the national average in our on-screen presenters, talent and stars.   In our last wave our tracking in 2019, our representation was at 14%.
  • We are committed to providing new opportunities for diverse new talent across our content and we have a clear strategy to deliver this.
  • We are committed to BAME diversity in our ‘new faces of E4’ talent search which is underway in 2020.
  1. Our Supply Chain: We commit to fair BAME representation in our supply chain
  • We are making a new commitment to tracking and reporting our content spend with BAME-led independent producers.  
  • We will launch a new BAME-led Indie Accelerator Plan in which each commissioning genre will identify two BAME-led indies to champion and nurture with a bespoke accelerator plan.
  • We are committed to 50% of our remaining commissioning development spend in 2020 being with BAME-led, Nations & Regions or small indies.
  • We will continue to be part of the Commissioning Mentoring Network, as part of our effort to grow BAME talent in the industry.
  • We are partnering with The TV Collective to support the BAME creative industry through the Covid crisis.
  1. Our Business Model: We commit to use our influence as an advertiser-funded broadcaster to ensure BAME representation in advertising
  • Our £1m Diversity in Advertising Award for 2020 will be focused on BAME representation within advertising.

We are committed to acting on feedback from the industry and continuing to review these commitments and will update further on our diversity strategy this autumn as part of a detailed new diversity plan.