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BBC continues diversity drive with new head of workforce inclusion

The BBC has appointed a head of workforce diversity and inclusion to help ensure the corporation is a “modern and diverse workplace”.

Anne Foster is making the move from Sony Pictures Entertainment where she was director of diversity, leadership and organisational development. She will join the BBC in January.

She will work closely with June Sarpong, who was appointed the BBC’s new director of creative diversity earlier this month.

Both appointments have been announced after the corporation was almost dragged into a race row over its handling of a viewer complaint relating to BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty.

Foster will be responsible for “implementing strategies which ensure the BBC is a modern and diverse workplace, committed to promoting and ensuring inclusion and valuing diversity at all levels of the organisation,” the corporation said.

Foster has previously worked as head of diversity and inclusion at the House of Commons. She is a member of the Government’s Race Disparity Advisory Group, an Associate of Inclusive Employers, and a member of London South Bank University’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Steering Group.

She said: “I am excited to be joining a creative and diverse organisation like the BBC.  I’m passionate about making inclusion an everyday reality for everyone and look forward to championing inclusion and promoting diversity.

“I’m also looking forward to working closely with June Sarpong. Together I think we can make a real difference.”

Sarpong will lead the BBC’s drive to increase on-air representation to ensure its content reflects the communities it serves, working three days a week so she can continue her other broadcasting and diversity commitments.

BBC Group managing director Bob Shennan added that Foster would “make sure we go further in building a truly diverse and inclusive workforce”.

The BBC has already beaten some of its 2020 diversity targets, including having 15 per cent BAME staff (now at 15.3 per cent) and 8 per cent disabled staff (now at 10.2 per cent).

It has said BAME staff in leadership roles are now at 11.5 per cent while women fill 43.8 per cent of such jobs.

Diversity at the BBC became a hot topic this month after a complaint ruling against Breakfast presenter Munchetty’s comments about tweets by Donald Trump which she said were “embedded in racism” led to criticism of its rigid impartiality rules when applied to racism.

A group of prominent black broadcasters signed an open letter condemning the ruling and calling for the corporation to “address their own levels of diversity and increase transparency as to how they reach their decisions…”.

Picture: National Inclusion Week/Youtube screenshot

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