In 2018-2020 the European social partners ran a project assessing progress in the field of gender equality in the audiovisual industry. This project was a follow up action to the adoption of a Framework of Actions (FoA) on Gender Equality in 2011.
To assess progress, the project implemented a study that included desk research, an online survey, phone interviews and study visits in different EU countries. The research, while focusing on the representation of women in the sector and on correcting gender inequalities, also looked at the broader challenges of diversity, discrimination, and inclusion.
To pursue and deepen those conversations the European social partners launched in 2022, with the support of the European Union, a 2-year project in the context of which four roundtables will be organised.
The overall objective of the project is to improve the capacity of the industry to implement diversity policies. The roundtables will aim at clarifying concepts, highlighting practices and experiences, and at inspiring future actions.
The first roundtable was held online and looked at better understanding what we mean when we speak of diversity and inclusion in the audiovisual sector.
What are the different dimensions of the terms, and are they understood in the same way in different national contexts? Why do diversity and inclusion matter for the European audiovisual sector, and what actions and strategies have already been put in place across Europe?
Two speakers helped us navigate those complex issues:
Marcus Ryder, Head of External Consultancies at the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity, UK;
Agnès Saal, Senior Official for equality, diversity, and prevention of discrimination at the Ministry of Culture, France.
The discussion was moderated by Francesca Scott, Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the European Broadcasting Union.
The exchange unpacked the question of ‘headcounts’ – who is working in our sector and who appears on our screens – but also focused on the importance of bringing in nuances in what and how we count, as well as on how we analyse results. What reference numbers do we take when we set targets and monitor progress towards those targets? What roles and place do the people we count have in our teams or in the stories we tell? How many are in position of leadership? Which budgets do they manage, and when are their programmes scheduled?
Sometime small-scale datasets on a specific occupation and/or type of production can allow to overcome some of the challenges faced when collecting large diversity statistics. They can also help develop concrete strategies and actions with direct impact on the grounds.
In addition to discussing data, speakers underlined the importance of safe places, as well as of the fight against all forms of discrimination. Concrete initiatives were mentioned in the field of violence and harassment, as well as in diversifying leadership roles in sector productions and institutions.
Financial incentives to support organisations and productions to diversify profiles were finally discussed. They were praised as important tools, but with the need to now assess how to enhance take up.
The recording of the online roundtable with subtitles in English and French is available for replay.
A second roundtable took place in Paris, France, on Friday 2 June 2023.
The meeting was hosted by the French film school, La Fémis.
The second roundtable built on the February’s exchanges, taking them a step further.
After an introduction to intersectionality, it focused on the building blocks of a diversity and inclusion strategy, as well as on opening pathways to the sector.
The day started with a keynote on intersectionality by Amrita Das, Didactics and communications specialist from the Centre for Teaching & Learning of the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. She outlined the theoretical underpinning of the terms, as well as its practical implications.
Intersectionality recognizes that identities are not singular but composed of multiple dimensions; each of which affects our lived experiences and social interactions. Mixed environments, to become inclusive creative spaces in which we connect through our intersections, need basic guidelines to establish trust and a sense of belonging.
Following the keynote speech, a first panel explored the main objectives and action strands of a diversity and inclusion strategy in the audiovisual sector.
Panelists were Alexandra Borchardt, independent researcher, journalist, and consultant from Germany, Marine Schenfele, Corporate Social Responsibility Director at CANAL+ Group and An Dezeure, Head of VRT JOBS (Recruitment, Talent Scouting, Internships) in Belgium.
The panel was moderated by Francesca Scott, Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the European Broadcasting Union.
Among the many elements highlighted by the speakers in this conversation:
– the importance to cater to more diverse audiences by monitoring and diversifying representation on screen but also by diversifying profiles in the teams;
– the need to review and open up new recruitment channels in partnership with organisations that have access to young diverse talents;
– reviewing leadership models, values and structures to ensure a change of culture really happens;
– addressing tensions and conflicts as soon as they appear to allow change and learning when dialogue is still possible;
– putting in place informal platforms for questions and exchanges, as well as formal reporting procedures when needed (accompanied by communication campaigns and training measures);
The second panel discussed initiatives aimed at exploring how to open up more inclusive pathways into the sector. Educational pathways were debated, as well as professional pathways during productions.
Speakers were: Nathalie Coste Cerdan, Director General of La Fémis (France); Lonneke Worm, Cinematographer and Program Head at the Netherlands Film Academy; Ralph Buchter, President at Séquences Clés Productions (France) and David Collins, Producer at Samson Films (Ireland).
The panel was moderated by Daphné Tepper, Policy Director at UNI MEI.
To attract new profiles, film schools have taken different types of initiatives such as reviewing communications, selection procedures, the composition of selection committees, curricula, etc. Some results have been achieved but efforts should be maintained.
Managing the needs and realities of newcomers is another key challenge that schools are facing now. Opening up ‘safe places’ mediated by professionals to address tensions and misunderstandings, where everyone can learn (also teachers from students) is needed. Dedicated training schemes for students and teaching staff are necessary as well.
Addressing the place of disability, sickness, fragility and vulnerability in the audiovisual sector was also discussed. How to welcome professionals who live their lives with mental, physical or psychological disabilities or illnesses and have been excluded from the professional environment, either because they could not access the traditional education and professional pathways due to their disability or illness, or because of a life incident? Examples of solutions were given in almost all sector occupations and at no financial or creative costs.
Integrating newcomers with diverse profiles, skillsets and experiences in audiovisual productions were finally discussed and praised as an asset, especially if connected in one way or another to the overall project of the production. Funding for such initiatives really helps, not only to cover salaries and associated costs, but also to put a structure around the professionals in order to offer them training, support systems, etc.
* Resources collected during or in preparation of the project roundtables
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Knowledge Hub, European Broadcasting Union (EBU)
Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity, School of Media, Birmingham University, UK
Observatoire de l’égalité femmes-hommes du CNC, France
Rapport sur la représentation de la société française dans les médias audiovisuels – Exercice 2021 et actions 2022, Arcom, France
Newsrooms that care : how diversity and inclusion will define the future of journalism, Report by Alexandra Borchardt, European Federation of Journalists, March 2022
Hello, channel highlighting LGBTQI+ creations, Canal +
vrt NXT, technology event organised by the Flemish public broadcaster aimed at young people
L’écran d’après / Screens of tomorrow, French initiative to question stereotypes and promote stories that highlight a more inclusive and sustainable society
Fondation Culture & Diversité, France
La Cinéfabrique, France
Ecole Kourtrajmé, France
Netherlands Film Academy, Inclusive and diverse
Séquences Clés Productions, agence de production audiovisuelle, France
Pathways Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Fund, Screen Ireland