Staff members have criticized the BBC for ignoring its own diversity regulations just a month after the sacking of board member Kamal Ahmed, The Independent reported on Saturday.
The BBC culled its news board while following through with an £80 million ($111 million) savings proposal. Several key positions, including editorial director — held by Ahmed — were closed.
The resulting board is exclusively white, with two vacancies temporarily filled by white members.
In 2019, the BBC introduced a diversity policy that required at least two minority members in each senior leadership group, which the new formation of the board is violating.
Several employees have complained, describing the reshuffle as evidence that the BBC “only pays lip service to diversity.”
The Independent relayed the concerns of the journalists, who range from junior staff members to senior figures.
One journalist said: “This is very, very bad for the future of BBC News. Kamal was an ally and a voice who spoke up for minority audiences and under-represented groups at a senior level. He was often the only senior ally in the room at editorial meetings. He championed and empowered younger journalists.
“Not only does this send a worrying message about the future direction of BBC News, but it shows that we aren’t learning from our very big mistakes of the past.
“Tim Davie (the new director general) says he wants a BBC that represents all audiences. By pushing out the only non-white member of the news board, we have fallen at the first hurdle.”
A BBC spokesperson said: “The final membership of the board has not been announced. Two out of the eight posts … remain vacant.”
But staff members have expressed concern that potential non-white members appointed to the board will be considered as “token hires.”
Another BBC worker said: “The problem here is they’ve yet again shown how tone-deaf they are at that level. Now what they’re basically saying in all of their responses is ‘don’t worry, what we’re going to do now is hire two token people of color,’ as if it’s diversity by number.”
A veteran BBC journalist said: “The BBC is happy to have brown people at the table, but not at any position of influence in terms of editorial output.”
One employee who is considering leaving the BBC said: “It’s a really disheartening, scary time. The talent is leaving at an alarming rate. I can’t stay in an organization that’s becoming increasingly embarrassing to defend.”
Another said: “It’s a complete farce the idea that they’re going to modernize when actually they’ve got people very content with things staying as they are. The culture seems really alienating at the moment and how easily this decision was made without any consultation.”
The broadcaster said the restructuring decision last month was part of ambitions to “modernize BBC News.”
A leaked internal email seen by The Independent said: “Diversity and inclusion are a priority — for the news board and for everyone … We have interim cover in place for the HR Director and International roles. Recruitment is progressing to find a permanent candidate for both positions.”
Source: Arab News