New BBC Initiative Aims to ‘Sweep Away Any Barriers to Women Progressing’

UK broadcaster wants half of senior management and on-air talent to be female by 2020

Donalda MacKinnon - BBC

The BBC wants to become the “best place for women to work,” according to Donalda MacKinnon, director of BBC Scotland. MacKinnon has been appointed by BBC Director-General Tony Hall to “lead work that aims to sweep away any barriers to women progressing, fulfilling their ambitions and reaching the top.”

The UK broadcaster wants to “have women in half of senior management and on-air roles by 2020,” a media release about the initiative continued.

“We have a bold ambition — we want the BBC to be the best place for women to work,” MacKinnon (pictured above) said on Friday. “Flexible working, jobshares and development programmes already make it easier for some, but by bringing in the very best new ideas from outside as well as inside the BBC, we can do even more and aim for everyone to reach their potential.”

She’ll produce initial recommendations to Hall by early June, considering working practices, policies and procedures, practical support, recruitment and professional development, leadership and management development, culture and behaviors. MacKinnon and Hall are encouraging staff to contribute ideas.

This push comes on the heels of independent auditors finding a 6.8 percent gender pay gap between male and female on-air talent at BBC. The overall BBC average pay gap was 9.3 percent, while the national average over there is 18 percent.

Here are some bullet points the BBC wants to add to its preexisting flexible work options, jobshares and childcare vouchers:

  • Investigate what gaps and barriers are holding back women at the BBC currently and how they should be addressed
  • Look at the best examples from other organizations to see how the best initiatives can be implemented by the BBC
  • Consider whether there are good ideas and schemes within specific parts of the BBC which should now be rolled out more widely
  • Explore different options for part-time and flexible working as well as the value placed on these roles
  • Establish whether it could be made easier for people to return to work following maternity and career breaks

“The BBC’s goal is to be a great place in which to work, where everyone feels valued and where there are equal opportunities for progression and advancement for all of our staff, and we’ll be working with other groups of staff to ensure they don’t face barriers either,” the announcement to press concluded.