I moved into the diversity side of the broadcast industry when I was asked to manage Channel Four’s on-screen diversity strategy. I had been a programme-maker and diversity wasn’t a field I had previously sought to work in, but I realised it was an amazing opportunity and my current path developed from there.

The work I did at the BBC really shaped my career. The corporation is so large that you have the ability to affect a huge number of people and send a clear message to an audience of millions. I was also able to influence the diversity aspect of its recruitment policies, job descriptions and competencies. Even though I’m not from the traditional side of the HR profession, I believe in the ability to make measurable changes if you have a comprehensive strategy.

I’ve always been very clear about the value of diversity and the benefit it brings to organisations. For some, diversity is seen as an add-on and something not to be taken seriously when there is a range of competing priorities. But the diversity agenda has evolved from equal opportunities and being legislatively safe, to recognising that people have different needs and that everybody brings value. If a person is gay or disabled for example, that is only part of them, not the sum of them. The new Equality Act is going some way towards making that line of thinking possible.

The UK Film Council has just launched a Women in Film And Television mentoring scheme. The participants are really excited about it and I think it will provide them with opportunities they might not have otherwise had. I realise from my experience that it’s a privilege to know somebody who has expertise and advice you can use for yourself. It’s always important to remember mentoring is not just about the top of the tree – people on their way up need just as much support, if not more.

The best advice I’ve been given is to be honest about what you believe in. The thing people will actively engage with is your passion for something, and passion comes from being honest. I’ve also learnt to admit when I don’t know the answer. I’ve always accepted that from the people I’ve worked with – and sometimes it’s about giving people the confidence to say that they don’t know the solution but will endeavour to find it.

We’ve just commissioned a big piece of research on older women and class, but ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation are always a valid part of what we are trying to achieve in highlighting the many types of people who make up a movie audience and what motivates them. The UK Film Council has done a massive amount of work to make the cinema experience for people with disabilities much better, whether that’s through audio loops or subtitling. I’m also a judge of the RADAR awards (for the Royal Association for Disability Rights), and see an incredibly high standard of submissions. I feel the programming around disability has changed dramatically over the past 10 years and it’s become more about normalising the experience of a person with disabilities.
 
For some industries, diversity is about the number of people they employ and whether they are representative of the local population in terms of ethnicity and disability. But broadcasting got the message quite some time ago that it goes way beyond that – it is about the modern voice that a diverse workforce can bring to the table. Other businesses now have a sense of what diverse individuals can deliver for the business, which is why there is much more talent management and succession planning now. Difference really is good for business – whether it’s how you advertise your product or how you represent your consumer or audience.

The CV
Education: New Hall School, Boreham, Essex (3 A-levels)
Previous roles: Editorial executive, diversity, BBC Television (2006-10); editorial manager, cultural diversity, Channel Four (2003-06); series producer, Blakeway Productions (2000-03); researcher and producer, BBC (1990-2000)
Committees: Bafta, education committee; National Youth Theatre, council with responsibility for diversity; Royal Television Society, diversity committee
Personal: Married with one child
Hobbies: Antique and vintage hunting