Is there institutional racism in the broadcasting industry?
Institutional discrimination arises from a dominant industry
So does all this amount to institutional racism?
On the basis of the examples given by my interviewees from ethnic minorities
and others such as gay and disabled people, I feel that to call it institutional
racism is to limit our understanding of it. What exists is a very strong industry
monoculture which excludes and discriminates against all sorts of difference in
subtle and often, on a personal level, unintended ways. The cumulative impact of
the sort of day to day marginalisation described above means that few people
who come from a different background or bring a different perspective remain
and rise through the industry. The ones least likely to do so are those who are
perceived as most different and made to feel most different.
? Oxbridge: the great leveller?
It was striking that the few ethnic minority or disabled people who described
feeling they had been equally treated and had had a good experience of working
in the industry were those who matched most closely the norms of the
dominant monoculture. For example, they were most likely to have an Oxbridge
degree, least likely to be overtly different in their accent or cultural reference
I think that is the secret of my success actually. I had the right
credentials, went to the right schools, I spoke like them, so in every
way I was like them so I was conveniently not White but I certainly
wasnt scary. The classic, what college did you go to? I could answer
the question and I wasnt scary. - Producer
It is ironic, Im seen as this example of the BBC diversifying but if
you look at my background, I went to grammar school; I went to
Cambridge, Im White middle-class. Im not, in many ways, an
obvious example of diversity! Im sure having Cambridge on your CV
helps to overcome that initial barrier that people have about
disabled people:that they see us as not being able to do the job. If
they see Cambridge on your CV it makes them think twice. -
Such people may help to change the monoculture in small ways from within but
they are too few and far between - and may not be themselves equipped - to
make a substantial or lasting impact to the industry, nor to the range of voices in
the National Conversation.