The proportion of BBC employees who are LGBT, 11 percent, is far greater than the general British population’s estimated 2 percent.
But now the iconic news organization is launching a campaign to stamp out the last bit of “heteronormative culture,” which regards traditional male-female sexuality as normal.
In its LGBT Culture and Progression report, BBC Pride chiefs Karen Millington and Matt Weaver said the news organization has adopted 10 recommendations to help employees, or future employees, who are “genderqueer, bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, non-binary, pansexual, intersex, asexual, queer, questioning or an ally.”
Its campaign will directly affect the BBC’s news reporting.
One of the adopted recommendations is to “empower our content, news and radio teams to cover LGBT stories and portrayal, and routinely increase the incidental portrayal of LGBT identities.”
That appears to mean that not only will LGBT issues be covered with more and better reports, “LGBT identities” will routinely be inserted into the coverage of stories and events that are not related to the LGBT agenda.
James Purnell, the director of radio and education for the organization, said, “If we are to continue to attract the best talent both on and off air, we need to be seen to have an inclusive culture and I firmly believe that the more diverse our workforce is, the more relevant we will be to our audiences.”
He warned that an organization “that appears to have a heteronormative culture is not one that is going to cut ice with [listeners] either as a consumer or an employee.”
“Some of the recommendations may seem subtle shifts, but it’s clear from what I have heard that they would be transformative for us as an organization,” he said.
In addition, “straight” employees are being recruited as allies to advocate for gay rights.
The recommendations include empowering LGBT staff “to be comfortable about being open at work and increasing LGBT portrayal and talent on air.”
The BBC also will ensure its customs and practices include the LGBT community.
It will raise the profile of senior LGBT staff members as role models and initiate an LGBT staff mentoring program.
Managers will be instructed to support transgender staff members, and diversity training will be more specific about how employees must address LGBT issues.
Non-binary genders also will be held up for special support, with news and radio teams given permission to raise the presence of LGBT causes in their reports.
There also will be a “reverse mentoring” program in which LGBT staff will instruct managers and senior leaders on how to keep them happy.
Third-party suppliers were criticized because they didn’t always use “inclusive language, particularly around non-binary genders.”
The plan now is to appoint a project lead to implement the changes.
The Christian Institute criticized the move: “People’s LGBT identities will be shown more often, regardless of its relevance to a storyline or news item.”
The institute also noted LGBT people and their supporters will be given badges and have special email signatures to announce their status.