ScreenSkills publishes Diversity and Inclusion Playbook for screen industries

Published: 26 June 2023

Research-based Playbook, in association with the University of Glasgow, offers framework to improve and refine current D&I practice.

ScreenSkills, the only dedicated skills body for the UK’s screen industries, has published a Diversity and Inclusion (“D&I”) Playbook in association with the University of Glasgow. The Playbook brings together current practice in the sector; defines key terms and principles and, makes recommendations that could help to create, support and retain a more inclusive workforce.

 “A diverse and inclusive workforce is the cornerstone for a successful and creative screen sector. Diversity of thought, views and lived experiences are vital, making for a richer, more relevant experience not only for the audience but for those who work behind the camera,” commented Seetha Kumar, Chief Executive, ScreenSkills. “Building on previous cross-sector collaboration, this Playbook offers the screen industries a further opportunity to work together to provide a unified approach, common language, consistent measurement and defined accountability that will help to attract and retain the very best, most promising talent.”

 The Playbook has been informed by ScreenSkills’ D&I Target Review, commissioned in summer 2021. This in-depth research was undertaken by independent researchers from the Universities of Glasgow and Warwick.

The Review found that the screen industries were generally ahead of other sectors but did identify specific areas for improvement relating to clarity of language relating to D&I targets; consistency of target-setting data; greater transparency on target setting; and disseminating learning and good practice.

D&I targets are vital for delivering on strategic priorities for diversity and inclusion. A D&I target is an explicitly stated, actionable and time sensitive outcome that improves diversity and inclusion. A target can refer to a share of people within an identifiable group; budget invested specifically in D&I activity; recruitment and data collection. D&I targets can be confused with quotas (a minimum share of people with a specific characteristic) but D&I targets are much broader than quotas. Targets drive attention to many aspects of diversity and inclusion that we want to improve – who gets to work in the screen industries, how they experience their work, how our organisation run and what outputs we produce.

Professor Doris Ruth Eikhof, University of Glasgow, who led the ScreenSkills Diversity and Inclusion Targets (D&I) Review, said: “In the UK screen industries, D&I targets have evolved out of the need to find powerful drivers for diversity and inclusion. D&I targets have not been taught from a textbook, copied from other industries or from research elsewhere. On D&I, the UK screen industries are ahead of other sectors, both leading the way and finding their way at the same time. 

“This Playbook is an invitation to pause and reflect, refine and have a conversation about what should happen next. The Playbook is based on an extensive research and evidence on D&I targets in the UK screen industries and beyond. We hope it provides useful input for fruitful conversation and impactful practice.”

Professor Chris Pearce, Vice Principal for Research and Knowledge Exchange, University of Glasgow, said: “Improving inclusion in the UK screen industries is a strategic priority. More diversity on screen is not just important for business, it is key to understanding who we are and can be as a society.”

“University of Glasgow academics are internationally leading experts on diversity, inclusion and social justice in the cultural economy.  

“The ScreenSkills D&I Targets Playbook makes new expertise on D&I targets available for the first time. It is an impactful resource for industry and the University of Glasgow is delighted to have worked with ScreenSkills on this important project.”

The Playbook provides the screen industries with three key areas of focus:

  • Target setting in the UK screen industries
  • Definitions and a common language for D&I targets
  • Talking points and recommendations for next steps

Setting D&I targets in the UK screen Industries

Diversity targets are typically set for an organisation’s total workforce and most commonly refer to sex and gender; race and ethnicity; disability; and sexual orientation. In terms of senior leadership roles, targets often focus on sex and gender and race and ethnicity. In terms of socio-economic diversity, caring responsibilities, returners and work-life balance, there have been some initiatives, but currently there are no diversity targets relating to protected characteristics -  pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership, gender reassignment or religion.

There are areas where specific targets have been set. Disability is the only characteristic that has a cross-industry D&I target; additionally ScreenSkills has set explicit diversity targets for training programmes including the location of the participants.

Inclusion targets are less widespread but include targets relating to pay gap; on-screen portrayal; investment targets and interventions for specific groups.

Definitions and common language for D&I targets

For the first time, the Playbook provides the screen industries with a recommended common consensus of terms for D&I and how they relate to one another. Additionally, the Playbook provides guidance and aspirations for setting diversity targets. Using comparative baseline and reference data to identify and set targets, the Playbook recommends that the targets should be aspirational, achievable, action-based, explicit and accountable; and should be reviewed periodically.

Recommendation and next steps

The Playbook makes a series of recommendations for the screen industry to consider.

  • Transorganisational targets: While the screen industry approaches D&I targets industry-wide, greater transparency in terms of sharing wider information and insight could enable more ambitious target setting;
  • Diversifying D&I targets: The current focus on sex and gender, race and ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation could be both further nuanced or expanded upon. For example, developing D&I targets for age, socio-economic background, caring responsibilities or refugee status; or developing inclusion targets beyond diversity in areas such as pay gap or investment;
  • Setting meaningful targets: By identifying areas of target setting that require more evidence, and the necessary methodology would enable more meaningful D&I targets to be set.
  • Clarity of D&I targets: If targets are made clearer, then delivery of the targets will be more successful. For example, clarity on how targets are set; identifying when an under-represented characteristic has been met; clarity on both sourcing baseline and reference data and how it is used; and mapping targets against the organisation’s broader strategy. Monitoring and reporting data would not only improve current good practice but would also help develop industry consensus regarding reference data and its use.
  • Target ranges: To enable D&I targets to be both ambitious and achievable, target ranges as opposed to absolute targets should be introduced. Additionally, target ranges enable greater flexibility for targets, not only transorganisational and regional targets, but also any future and new targets introduced.
  • Intersectionality: People with combinations of diversity characteristic are often more disadvantaged or excluded. To remove this, there are two options that merit further investigation:
    • Setting targets that remove cross-cutting barriers that impact individuals with intersecting diversity characteristics
    • Setting participant diversity targets where they belong to more than one under-represented group.

“I would like to thank Professor Eikhof and her team for working with ScreenSkills to develop this Playbook,” added Seetha Kumar. “The lack of diversity and inclusion in the screen industries is a contributing factor to the skills and talent shortage the sector grapples with. We hope that our production and broadcasting colleagues will embrace the principles and recommendations that the Playbook offers and work together to make the screen industries a fairer, more inclusive place to build a career.”

First published: 26 June 2023