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Disabled workers in UK television industry facing barriers to career progression, new report says

Written by on 23 August 2021

Disabled people who work in the British television industry are facing “consistent difficulties” when it comes to career progression, a new report has found.

The findings, from the Lenny Henry Centre For Media Diversity at Birmingham City University, show that more than 80% of those who were surveyed say their disability has adversely affected their careers.

Additionally, 77% of respondents also said their career options in the industry have been limited by their disability.

More than half (51%) reported practical issues, such as not being able to drive or use certain equipment, as barriers to their employment.

The study also found a lack of employer understanding about how adjustments need to be made to help its disabled workforce.

Some 86 disabled television professionals were part of the study, which included producers, executives, development heads and managers, with more than half of them having at least 10 years experience in the industry.

They came from a wide range of genres, including news, current affairs and entertainment.

Key recommendations from the report include an industry-wide system of adjustments such as training on the equality law for managers, and giving disabled staff access to mentors within the industry.

Kate Ansell, a disabled journalist who produced the report, said: “In this research, disabled people themselves describe the experiences they’ve had working in the TV industry, including the barriers they’ve encountered and potential solutions to the problems.

“What’s striking is the consistency of the experiences described and the simplicity of some of the solutions. It’s crucial that the industry acts upon what it is being told.”

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Marcus Ryder MBE, from the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity, said: “Kate Ansell’s work is a necessary and timely contribution to the debate of how we increase diversity and inclusion in the television industry with respect to disabled people.

“It demonstrates a shocking basic lack of understanding of people’s legal rights, which is holding people’s careers back.

“The report also illustrates the ethos of the Centre, that empowering people from underrepresented groups to undertake the research and devise policies to overcome structural policies is the best way to progress.

“I sincerely hope the industry takes note of the issues raise in the research and more, implement the simple and practical policy recommendations contained within it.”