Black History Month: Industry ‘still has long way to go on diversity’

The broadcast industry has a long way to go when it comes to improving diversity at all levels, according to a controller of content operations at ITV.

The event at PwC in Leeds featured Sonny Hanley, Abigail Marshall Katung, Griselda Togobo and Karen Finlayson.

Sonny Hanely says he is “sad and disappointed” at the lack of progress on diversity behind the scenes at broadcasters such as ITV.

He was speaking before a Black History Month celebration event hosted by professional services firm PwC in Leeds.

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Mr Hanley, who is based out of Leeds, told The Yorkshire Post: “It’s predominantly a white male industry and it’s very difficult to break through the glass ceilings. They do schemes and initiatives but I don’t think that’s enough.

“They treat it as a box ticking exercise and every time the board comes to speak to people like myself it’s always ‘we’re doing a lot but we’ve got to do more’. It never seems to be enough.”

Mr Hanley wanted to work at ITV from the age of nine after his mother drove him past the broadcaster’s building in Leeds and told him that was where TV programmes were made.

Karen Finlayson, partner at PwC, hosted the panel discussion on promoting Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) talent, which also featured Griselda Togobo, CEO of business support network Forward Ladies, and Coun Abigail Marshall Katung.

Ms Finlayson pointed out that while diversity was improving generally across professional services, there was a bottleneck when it comes to representation in the upper echeleons of the industry.

She added: “The profession has done a lot over the years to attract talent and attract people from different communities.

“We’ve done a lot on social mobility, we’ve done a lot in terms of BAME.

“I think we still have a challenge around progression and seeing more BAME people in senior positions.”

Having made it to partner level, Ms Finlayson is the only black partner at PwC outside of London. She is keen to inspire black children to aim for a career in professional services.

“One of the statistics that we often quote here is we have over 122 different nationalities and cultures within our firm,” she says. “Yet we only have seven or nine per cent at a partner level so there’s still work to do.”

PwC hosted the panel discussion in collaboration with Forward Ladies and it was a part of the professional services firm’s Multicultural Business Network.

Ms Marshall Katung encouraged the audience, largely made up of people from BAME backgrounds, to surround themselves with positive people.

The panel also discussed whether people needed to consider having a personal brand.

“There’s too much pressure for people to conform,” Ms Togobo said, recollecting her career as an accountant.

She added: “I don’t think you should lose yourself trying to be something else. The more you try to blend in the more you lose your authenticity.”

The CEO of Forward Ladies put emphasis on having as wide a network as possible. “It’s important to have people around you who you can bounce ideas off,” Ms Togobo added.

She also challenged organisations to reveal the percentage of their learning and development budget that is being spent on people from BAME backgrounds.

Ms Finlayson closed proceedings with a reading of Christian D. Larson’s The Optimist Creed.