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ViacomCBS UK steps up diversity drive

ViacomCBS Networks UK has revealed a series of measures to strengthen its diversity and inclusion efforts, including a “no diversity, no commission” content policy.

ViacomCBS has committed to a range of new initiatives, building on its existing UK diversity and inclusion programme, including:

  • Implementing a “no diversity, no commission” content policy for its suppliers and extending CDN’s Diamond diversity data monitoring across all its pay TV brands, in addition to terrestrial broadcaster Channel 5.
  • Hiring a new role within its commissioning team responsible for identifying and developing diverse talent on and off screen, at all levels. This new position will help launch and run a diverse contributors search titled New Faces, New Voices to boost on-screen representation.
  • Creating a new “Promotion Opportunity Project,” which will identify and support the promotion of BAME talent in the UK production sector. This initiative is part of its commitment to nurturing diverse off-screen talent and will champion a number of mid-level freelancers and aid their career progression, giving them the opportunity to demonstrate their skills on a primetime commission.
  • From an organisational perspective, ViacomCBS will implement a raft of measures to embed inclusion into its strategy and leadership decisions. It will create an inclusion board to ally its senior leadership team in the UK with its employee resource groups and will give quarterly reports on performance.
  • A new BAME talent sponsorship programme will pair senior leaders with diverse talent to fuel career advancement and advocacy. The company will build on existing inclusive leadership/unconscious bias training for all senior leaders and hiring managers, with How to Ally training available to all employees.

ViacomCBS also said it would double down on its recruitment, retention and progression strategies to improve representation at all levels.

Maria Kyriacou

It has committed to diverse candidate pools for every open vacancy and is evolving its internship scheme to provide entry-level and mid-level fast-track positions into leadership. In addition, it has committed to voluntarily publishing its Ethnicity Pay Gap report in the UK on an annual basis.

This activity aligns with the work and commitment of the wider global organisation, which has set up three international task forces to develop initiatives that will address racial equity in every area of its business to drive meaningful change.

Maria Kyriacou, president of ViacomCBS Networks UK and Australia, said: “Society is now at an inflection point on the issue of systemic racism and, as individuals, as a company, we all have a part to play in righting centuries of wrongs. For too long, the TV industry has been a relative closed shop, and if we are to be of continued relevance to the audiences we serve, this must change.

Ben Frow

“Diversity and inclusion is a core company value, yet hearing from our employees over the course of the past few weeks, we know we can and we must do more to increase representation at all levels. Our commitment to this cannot be overstated.

“While this raft of new measures is intended to accelerate change, it is by no means a lone stake in the ground. Instead, it is a re-emphasis of a strategy that will continue to evolve in the coming weeks, months and years.”

Ben Frow, director of programmes at ViacomCBS Networks UK, added: “It is important that we work closely with our production company partners to ensure they help us to achieve our ambition of being truly reflective of Britain today, both on and off screen.

“The Promotion Opportunity Project and New Faces, New Voices are two practical actions that will contribute to change in front of and behind the camera, building on our BAME indies initiative, which remains a continuing area of focus.”

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