BBC Launches Creative Allies Tool to promote the concept of allyship at the BBC, the creative industry and beyond

The BBC’s Creative Diversity Unit, led by June Sarpong has today launched the Creative Allies Initiative, which unites organisations inside and outside the creative industry to promote the concept of allyship. Tim Davie, Director-General of the BBC joins global leaders from sectors including business, media, fashion and the arts, who have all signed up as Creative Ally Champions.

 Among these Champions are leaders and influencers from Bonnier Books UK, British Fashion Council, Burberry, The Business of Fashion, Clear Channel, Creative Industries Federation, Havas UK, LinkedIn UK, Sony Music, TikTok and Universal Music. All have pledged to develop the next generation of creative leaders from backgrounds that are currently underrepresented in their organisations, including:

  • Black, Asian and Minority ethnic talent
  • Disabled talent
  • Talent from low income backgrounds

They have pledged to demonstrating this commitment to inclusion through the promotion of  allyship, which is where people – at any level in an organisation – can support colleagues who may have had fewer advantages than them in life. The ambition is that many more leaders within the creative industry and beyond will also sign up as allies.

To support the Creative Ally Champions the BBC Academy, in association with the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, led by Dr. Stacy L. Smith, has created The Ally Track  – a free online  education tool, which organisations and the public can use via the BBC Creative Diversity website. All of the Creative Ally Champions have committed to the use of the tool within their organisations.

 The Ally Tool helps the user think about their own background and how different experiences can lead to advantages and disadvantages in the workplace. It can also be used to identify an individual’s strengths and suggest how they might display allyship at their work. Based on Karen Catlin’s “Better Allies” process, the tool sets out seven types of ally – sponsor, champion, advocate, amplifier, scholar, upstander and confident. Users are invited to choose which type of ally they would like to be personally. Over a month the tool will then give practical exercises, tips and best practice on how to be that ally.

The campaign launches with a nationwide out of home campaign which takes inspiration from iconic BBC test cards, created for free by Havas, with media locations, including the Storm Chiswick Towers, donated by Clear Channel. Both organisations have committed to becoming Creative Allies Champions. 

The Creative Allies Initiative supports the wider work from the BBC’s Creative Diversity Unit, including:

  • Earlier this year June Sarpong launched a toolkit to support the BBC’s creative staff and industry partners in prioritising diversity throughout creative decision making, culture and output. As part of this, the BBC worked with the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative to create a framework to help organisations evaluate how they’re doing and track progress as they work to improve diversity and inclusion within production. More details here.
  • More recently the BBC’s 50:50 Project methodology was expanded to monitoring disability and ethnicity representation within programming against targets of 12% and 20% respectively.
  • A number of virtual events: The Creative Diversity Dialogue hosted in partnership with the United Nations; The Creative Diversity Xperience (CDX), a two-day virtual festival which showcased the vibrancy, innovation and leadership of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic talent in the creative industry; and last week, Reframing Disability, a series of high-level conversations in conjunction with Valuable 500 and the Disabled Artists Networking Community (DANC) in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the UK’s Disability Discrimination Act
  • From April 2021 the BBC has committed to spending £100m of the existing commissioning budget on diverse programming, which will be supported by a mandatory 20% off-screen diverse talent target on all new network commissions.

Tim Davie, Director-General of the BBC, says: “Changing the culture at an organisation needs to start at the top.  I am proud that we are helping to bring together people from across our industry who have the power to promote diversity and inclusion – we all want to find new ways of working that help build a truly inclusive and diverse culture in our organisations. I am delighted that so many of our partners have already signed up as Creative Allies – we hope that many more will join us.”

 June Sarpong, Director of Creative Diversity at the BBC, says: “I am delighted that so many leaders have come on board to support our Creative Allies initiative, throughout my own career I have been lucky to find support from allies within my industry – it’s important that those with the most agency use that position to help level the playing field for diverse talent, we look forward to more organisations joining us.”

 The Creative Ally Champions

  • Tim Davie – Director-General, BBC
  • Perminder Mann – CEO, Bonnier Books UK
  • Caroline Rush – CEO, British Fashion Council
  • Marco Gobbetti – CEO, Burberry
  • Imran Amed – Founder and CEO, The Business of Fashion
  • Justin Cochrane – CEO, Clear Channel UK
  • Caroline Norbury MBE – Chief Executive, Creative Industries Federation
  • Chris Hirst – Global CEO, Havas Creative
  • Josh Graff – CEO, LinkedIn UK
  • Richard Waterworth – General Manager UK & Europe, TikTok
  • Jason Iley – CEO, Sony Music
  • David Joseph – Chairman & CEO, Universal Music UK

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