BBC Steps Away from Workplace Diversity Program

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday November 10, 2021

The BBC's London headquarters
The BBC's London headquarters  (Source:Alastair Grant/AP)

The BBC is the latest major employer to step away from a diversity workplace program in the UK, citing a need to ensure its objectivity with respect to the LGBTQ+ advocacy group behind the program, Business Insider reported.

The "Diversity Champions Programme" is the work of British advocacy group Stonewall, and is "a workplace-policy initiative to ensure that LGBT staff are supported in their jobs," Business Insider noted.

The BBC said moving away from the program was necessary because its participation had "led some to question whether the BBC can be impartial when reporting on public policy debates where Stonewall is taking an active role," the article said.

"The disaffiliation from the program comes as the BBC is increasingly criticized for platforming hatred against the LGBTQ community," Business Insider said, citing "a recent BBC article entitled 'We're being pressured into sex by some trans women,'" a piece that prompted "criticism for framing the trans community in a negative light, whilst not interviewing any trans women in the piece," according to Business Insider.

The article also recalled that the BBC apologized for anti-LGBTQ+ slurs that were aired by its Persian Service earlier this year.

"Ultimately, it is LGBTQ+ people who suffer," Stonewall tweeted in response to the announcement.

The post included a link to Stonewall's official response to the BBC exiting the program.

"This news comes in the wake of organised attacks on workplace inclusion that extend far beyond the Diversity Champions programme," Stonewall said in its statement. "It is shocking that organisations are being pressured into rolling back support for LGBTQ+ employees."

Stonewall added statistics from its research on workplace attitudes toward LGBTQ+ people, saying, "Almost one in five LGBTQ+ staff have been the target of negative comments or conduct from work colleagues because they're LGBTQ+," and adding that the same numbers applied to LGBTQ+ people looking for work who said they had encountered discrimination during their job searches.

Also, according to Stonewall, "More than a third of LGBTQ+ staff have hidden or disguised that they are LGBTQ+ at work because they were afraid of discrimination."

The BBC's exit follows that of other "Major players like the UK government's Cabinet Office and Ofcom," which also backed out of the program this year, Gay Times noted.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.