BBC Black & Asian Forum (BBAF)
The BBC Black & Asian Forum (BBAF) was started over 20 years ago to support under-represented groups and promote discussions on race, equality and diversity in the BBC to facilitate Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) employees’ career development.
In 2014, the Director General and Executive Board members attended a BBAF Annual General Meeting. After speaking a wide range of staff, the Director General undertook to make diversity one of his priorities. This meeting was pivotal in increasing BBAF activity.
The BBAF is run by voluntarily by staff from across the BBC and has 300 members. Members bring their skills, experience and connections to organise training events and talks and to support each other. The BBAF is sponsored by the Executive Board and Diversity team, and events are voluntarily managed by senior BAME managers who act as accessible role models.
The BBAF also works with the BBC's Diversity Centre to address issues of race and diversity, including cementing the BBC's diversity initiatives. In particular, the BBAF focuses on the under-representation of BAME employees in senior roles and issues around BAME retention and progression. BBAF adheres to the BBC diversity strategy including BAME representation targets at all levels and a more open culture around speaking out on bullying and harassment.
The BBAF Executive Committee regularly met with senior leaders, including the Director of HR, Head of Diversity and Inclusion and Director General. These meetings led to initiatives including the RISE scheme, where senior executives across the BBC provide coaching to 50 BAME staff from entry to mid-level grades. The mentors set SMART objectives for mentees and opening up their networks, whilst increasing their awareness of diversity issues.
Meetings with senior leaders also led to the Clore Leadership programme, which aims to increase the number of senior leaders in the industry through working with executives and receiving executive level training, and the Assistant Commissioner Programme, which aims to increase the diversity of commissioners across all genres.
The BBAF has increased the diversity of talent on and off the air. The One Show now uses BBAF communication routes to reach a more diverse audience, and Radio 3 is accessing BAME participants to contribute to a ground-breaking conference promoting BAME people in classical music.
Two of the six Clore Leadership Programme participants have been promoted and the BBC has also run an Emerging Leaders Clore programme for 15 staff to increase the BAME pipeline for senior manager level. 10% of RISE participants have been promoted and RISE has been commissioned for a second cohort of 40 employees.
The BBC recently publicly released new diversity targets and recognised the three schemes are essential to the success of the strategy. The success of all three schemes means they will continue into 2020, providing a continuous pipeline of BAME talent and creating a critical mass to influence culture change.