Leaked government plans have reportedly revealed that it is considering giving Ofcom the power to force broadcasters such as the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV to publish data in connection with their staff (both on and off screen) to include age, pregnancy and maternity, marriage, gender reassignment, religion or belief, and sexual orientation.
Diversity and equal opportunity is undoubtedly a hot topic, particularly – but by no means exclusively – in the media sector. BBC presenters have on numerous occasions complained about the lack of diversity within the industry. Many female presenters have gone public and complained about receiving significantly less pay than their male counterparts.
The proposal is a step in the right direction in an attempt to further close the gaps in diversity. There seems little reason to narrow the scope of the collection of data to gender, race and disability, excluding the other characteristics that are protected by law. If the data isn’t available and accurately measured, it’s difficult to understand the scope of the problem and for improvements to be made.
However, although this proposal will push for greater diversity within organisations, it will also place additional administrative burdens onto them. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the accuracy of the data will depend on staff being prepared to provide the information in the first instance, and a failure to do so may skew results.